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The popularity of Marie de France in her 
own time was due largely to the fact that 
she was so entirely in the drift of the literary 
tendencies of that day. When these had 
exhausted themselves, she was for centuries 
almost completely forgotten. During the 
past hundred years she has been edited, 
criticised and translated by French and 
German scholars ; but her Lays, with two 
or three exceptions, have remained almost 
unknown in English. 

This fact is the stranger since, in addition 
to their vivid pictures of perhaps the most 
attractive period of the Middle Ages, and 
to a certain charm in the narration, due 
partly to Celtic origin, partly to Marie her- 
self, the Layshsive an elementof "humanity," 
that is, of appeal to human experience^ that 
seems to make them worth bringing before 
a wider circle of readers than those who are 
familiar with twelfth-century French. 

In translating, I have endeavoured to 
keep to the original modes of thought and 
ways of speech as far as is consistent with 
a reasonably idiomatic use of modern Eng- 
lish; but Marie's language is at once so 
archaic and so simple, at times almost collo- 
quial, that the way of the translator is hard 


and craves wary walking. And hence, if I 
have departed unduly from the modern 
idiom or from the text, or " if any one under- 
stand it better than " I could, this must be 
my plea. 

I have added a general introduction on 
Marie's life and work, and separate intro- 
ductions to the notes on each lay, dealing 
with the sources, as far as they have been 
discovered, for the use of students who may 
not have access to the materials. 

Thanks are due to various friends for 
criticisms upon the translation ; and espe- 
cially to Mr. Alfred Nutt for this, as well as 
for suggestions in regard to the sources. 

With the hope that these tales " of old 
unhappy far off things " may find friends 
among English readers, as they have found 
admirers in their old French form, this 
little volume has been prepared. 

Mid Yell, Shetland Isles, 
August 6, 1901, 



E to whom God has granted 
wisdom and eloquence in 
speech ought not to hide 
these gifts in silence, but 
gladly to make use of 
them ; for when a goodly- 
thing is much talked of, 
then first is it in blossom, 
and when it is praised of many, then only 
has it unfolded its flowers. 

Priscian tells us that it was the custom of 
the ancients to speak obscurely in their books, 
that men of later days, who should learn 
them, might employ the whole resources 
of their wit in expounding the text, for 
the philosophers knew by their own experi- 
ence that the more folk gave their time to 
this, the more subtle of wit they would 
become, and hence the better able to guard 
against that which should be avoided. And, 
indeed, if any one would keep himself from 
sin, he should study and learn and undertake 
a wearisome task ; in this way he may spare 
himself great sorrow. 

This is how I came to think of trans- 
lating some good history from Latin into 
Romance ; but so many others have under- 
taken to do this that it would have been no 

(M[tatie be Stance 

credit to me. Then I bethought me of 
the lays that I had heard. I knew well, 
beyond a doubt, that they who first made 
them and sent them into the world did this 
in remembrance of the adventures they had 
heard ; and, as I have heard many of them 
told and would not have them forgotten, 
I have rhymed them into verses — and many 
a night have I waked over it ! 

In honour of you, noble King, most 
excellent and gracious, to whom all joy 
does homage, and in whose heart all good 
has root, I have set about gathering lays, 
and retelling them in rhyme. I said in my 
heart, sire, that I would offer them to you ; 
and if it pleases you to accept them, you 
will give me such great joy that I shall be 
glad ever after. Think me not overbold 
in offering you this gift ! 

Now hearken, and I will begin : 


NE who is treatingof good 
matter is troubled if it 
be not well done ; but 
hearken, lords, to Marie, 
who uses her time as well 
as she may. Such an 
one, who is talked of for 
her good work, ought to 
be praised of folk ; but, indeed, wherever 
there is a man or woman of great fame, 
those who are envious of her good work 
often slander her, and with the intent to 
lessen her fame play the part of a wretched, 
cowardly dog, a cur that bites folk stealthily. 
But I will not leave off for this, even though 
backbiters and false flatterers work mischief 
against me — for to speak ill is their nature. 
I will tell you as shortly as I can the 
stories that I know to be true, whereof the 
Britons have made lays. And in the be- 
ginning I will set before you as briefly as 
possible, according to the letter of the writ- 
ing, an adventure which befel in Britain- 
the-Less, in days of old. 

In that time Hoilas held the land, often 

in peace and often in war. Among his 

barons was a lord of L6on, called Oridials, 

whom he loved especially. This worthy 


(^atie ^e Stance 

and valiant knight had by his wife two 
children, a son and a fair daughter. The 
damsel was named Noguent j and the lad, 
who was the prettiest boy in all that realm, 
Guigemar. His mother loved him to a 
marvel, and his father set great store by 

Yet as soon as he could bear to part with 
the lad, he sent him to serve the king at 
court. Guigemar, being gentle and of good 
wit, was soon beloved by all^ and when he 
came to be of proper age and understanding, 
the king dubbed him with due honours and 
gave him arms at his will. 

Thereupon Guigemar, after scattering 
largesse freely, departed from the court and 
went to Flanders, where there was always 
strife and war, to win him glory. Neither 
in Lorraine nor in Burgundy, in Anjou nor 
in Gascony, at that time could be found his 
peer among knights. Yet he perverted 
nature in so far that he cared nothing for 
love. There was no dame or damsel under 
heaven, however noble or however fair, who 
would not at his entreaty have yielded him 
her love ; nay, more, many often sought 
him, but he had no liking thereto. It did 
not appear that he would have aught to 

do with love ; hence, friends and strangers 
alike held him to be in perilous case. 

In the flower of his fame, the knight 
returned to his own land, to visit his father 
and his liege-lord, his good mother and his 
sister, all of whom had greatly longed for 
him ; and he tarried with them, I trow, a 
whole month. 

One evening the wish seized him to go 
a-hunting, so he sent for his knights, his 
hunters, and his beaters, and in the morning 
went into the forest — for this sport pleased 
him mightily ! 

They got track of a great stag ; the 
dogs were uncoupled ; the hunters ran 
forward; the young knight followed more 
slowly, for a servant bore his bow and 
quiver and hanger, and he wished to shoot, 
if a chance offered, before he went further. 

Presently he beheld in a thicket of dense 
underbrush a hind with her fawn ; she was 
all white and had the horns of a stag upon 
her head. When at the brachet's baying 
she came forth, he stretched his bow and 
drew upon her, piercing her in the fore 
part of the hoof so that she straightway 
fell. But the arrow rebounded and pierced 
his thigh even to the saddle, in such wise 

(glatie be Stance 

that it brought him quickly to the ground. 
He fell to the earth on the soft grass beside 
the wounded hind. She was hurt sorely, and 
moaning with pain, spoke in this manner : 

" Oi ! Alas ! I am slain ! and thou, 
vassal, who hast wounded me, be thy fate 
such that never shalt thou find cure. Be 
it that neither herb nor root, nor the potion 
of any leech, shall help thee of the wound 
in thy thigh until thou art healed by a 
woman, who for love of thee shall suffer 
such pain and such sorrow as never woman 
has had before ; and thou shalt bear as 
much for her — whereat shall marvel all who 
love, and have loved, and shall love ever after. 
Get thee hence, and leave me in peace ! " 

Guigemar,as he lay there sorely wounded, 
was horror-struck at these words, and be- 
thought him into what land he should go 
for the healing of his wound, since he was 
loth to die. He knew well enough, and 
told himself, that never had he seen woman 
whom he could love, who therefore should 
heal him of his pain. But calling his 
varlet he said : 

" Friend, put spurs to thy horse and bid 
my comrades return, for I would speak 
with them." 



The man spurred away ; and Guigemar, 
though crying out for anguish, bound the 
wound tightly with his tunic, then mounted 
and rode on. In his fear that he might 
meet some of his men to stop him, or at 
least delay him, it seemed long ere he was 

Midway through the forest a grassy road 
led him out of the woodland ; and in the 
plain below he beheld the banks and cliffs 
of a river, an arm of the sea, which formed 
there a harbour. In this was a single ship 
of which he could see the mast. Right 
seaworthy was that boat, so well pitched 
within and without that no seam could be 
found ; all its pegs and fittings were of 
ebony, as precious as any gold under heaven, 
and its unfurled sail was of most lovely 

The knight bethought him that he had 
never heard tell of a ship landing in these 
parts ; but none the less he advanced and 
climbed down to the barque. Though 
with grievous pain to his wound, he went 
on board, thinking to find there those who 
had charge of the ship; but he saw no one. 

Amid the vessel he came upon a bed, 
whereof the feet and sides were Solomon's 

^arie be Stance 

work, of cypress and white ivory inlaid 
with gold. The quilt was of silk and 
gold tissue ; the other fittings I scarcely 
know how to praise ; but this much will I 
tell you of the pillow : whoso placed his 
head upon it should never have grey hair. 
The coverlet was of sable and lined with 
Alexandrian purple. In the prow of the 
boat were set two candlesticks of fine gold 
(the worse worth a treasure-hoard), in which 
were two lighted tapers. 

Marvelling greatly at all this, he lay 
down upon the bed to rest a while, for his 
wound pained him. But when he arose 
presently to depart, he might not return, 
for the vessel was speeding away with him 
on the high seas, before a soft, favouring 
wind, that left no hope of retreat. 'Tis 
no marvel that he was anxious and ill at 
ease, for his wound hurt him grievously 
and he knew not what to do. Yet he 
must go through with the adventure ; so, 
praying God to keep watch over him, and 
in His might to bring him to some haven 
and save him from death, he lay down or 
the bed again and fell asleep. 

To-day he has borne the worst of his 
destiny j before evensong he shall arrive 


where he is to be healed, below the walls 
of an ancient city, the capital of that 

Now the lord who ruled this city was a 
very old man, and had to wife a lady of 
high lineage, gentle, courteous, fair and 
discreet. But he was jealous out of all 
measure, for so are all old men by nature, 
each dreading mightily lest he be deceived 
— 'tis the way of age ! 

No laughing matter was the watch that 
he kept over her ! At the foot of the donjon 
was a garden shut in on all sides. The 
walls were of green marble, wondrous high 
and thick, with but one entrance, and that 
guarded night and day. On the fourth 
side was the sea, so that none who must 
needs to the castle might enter there, or 
depart, save it were by boat. 

Here within, this lord, for the safe- 
keeping of his wife, had built the fairest 
chamber under heaven, and at its entrance 
a chapel. The room was all adorned with 
paintings; and among other things was a 
representation of Venus, the Goddess of 
Love, showing the ways and nature of 
love, how folk should hold fast to it, and 
serve the goddess well and faithfully. She 

(gEtatte be Stance 

was casting into a blazing fire Ovid's book, 
wherein he teaches men to eschew love; 
and, furthermore, was cursing all who 
should ever read that book or obey its 

In this chamber was the lady imprisoned. 
Her husband placed with her, as attendant, 
his niece, his sister's child, a maiden of 
noble birth and breeding. Between these 
two ladies was great love, and whenever 
the lord was away, they were always 
together until he returned. Besides this 
damsel no other person entered within the 
wall or issued thence, save an old priest, 
grey and ripe of years, who had the key 
of the postern and went in to read God's 
service before the lady, and to wait upon 
her at table. 

This self-same day, in the early afternoon, 
the lady, attended by her maiden, went 
into the garden. She had been sleeping 
after her mid-day meal, and now went out 
to amuse herself. Looking down towards 
the sea, they beheld a ship breasting the 
flood and sailing into the harbour, yet 
saw no means whereby it was conveyed 

The lady, blushing rosily, turned to 


flee — 'tis no marvel that she was afraid — 
but the damsel, who was quick-witted and 
bolder of heart, comforted her and reassured 
her so that they soon went down together. 
The maiden, putting aside her mantle, 
entered the wondrous skiff, but found 
therein no living creature save the sleeping 
knight. She paused there and looked at 
him, and, seeing him all pale, believed 
that he was dead. So she went back and 
quickly called her lady, telling her what 
she had seen, with piteous lament for the 

The lady answered: " Let us go to him. 
If he is dead our priest will help us to 
bury him ; and if I find him alive he will 
surely speak to us." 

With no delay they passed down together 
into the boat, the lady going first. When 
she had entered the skiff, she paused before 
the bed and gazed upon the knight, often 
lamenting the fairness of his form, for it 
seemed to her that his youth was come to 
naught ; and she was sorrowful for him. But 
when she put her hand on his breast she 
felt it warm, and all sound the heart that 
beat against his side. And thereupon the 
sleeping knight waked and saw her, and 

(glarie be Stance 

greeted her with much joy, perceiving that 
he was come to land. The lady, who had 
been weeping sadly for him, answered him 
with all kindness, and then asked him how 
he had come, and from what land, and 
whether he was exiled through war. 

"By no means, lady," said he. " But if it 
please you to hear my adventure, I will tell 
it and hide nothing. I am of Britain-the- 
Less, and to-day I went a-hunting in the 
woods, where I shot a white hind. But 
the arrow flew back and wounded me in 
the thigh — and never may I hope to be 
healed! The hind made moan and with 
bitter curses spoke, vowing that never 
should I have remedy save through a 
maiden whom I know not where to find ! 
When I heard my fate I came at once 
out of the wood, and seeing this vessel 
entered therein (fool that I was !) and the 
boat fled away with me ; I know not where 
I am arrived, nor what is the name of this 
city. Fair lady, for God's sake, I pray 
you of your grace, give me counsel, for I 
know not whither to go, nor can I steer 
my skifF!" 

She made answer : " Fair sir and dear, 
gladly will I give you counsel. This city 


is my husband's, and all the land round 
about. He is a mighty man of high 
degree, but of age right ancient, and, by 
my faith, bitterly jealous ! He has shut 
me within this close with its one entrance, 
where an old priest guards the door. May 
God grant that he burn in hell-iire ! Here 
am 1 imprisoned night and day; and never 
at any time should I dare to go forth 
unless he give me leave, or my lord summon 
me. Here have I my chamber and my 
chapel, and this maiden to serve me ; and 
if it please you to tarry until you are better 
able to journey, gladly will we entertain 
you and serve you with good will !" 

Upon these words the knight thanked 
the lady sweetly, and said that he would 
remain with her. Then he raised himself on 
the bed, and they helped him as they could. 

Thus they led him into the lady's 
chamber, and placed him on the damsel's 
bed, behind a rich tapestry which they 
devised as a curtain in the room. In 
basins of gold they brought water, and 
bathed the wound in his thigh, first 
staunching the blood with a fair cloth of 
white linen ; then they bandaged it tightly, 
dealing with him in all tenderness. 

ir B 

(Starie ^e Stance 

When their supper came, at eventide, 
the maiden kept enough for the knight 
also, and he ate and drank heartily. 

But Love had pierced him to the quick, 
and set his heart in a tumult ; for the lady- 
had so bewitched him that he quite forgot 
his native land, and though he felt no 
pain from his hurt, he sighed in sore 
anguish, and begged the maiden, who was 
to serve him, that she leave him alone to sleep. 
So she went away to her lady, who was also 
in some degree touched by the fire which 
so enkindled and inflamed the knight's 

He remained alone, pensive and heavy- 
hearted, though not yet knowing why ; 
still, he perceived well that if he were 
not healed by this lady, his death was 

"Alas!" said he, "what shall I do? I 
will go to her and ask her to have mercy 
and pity on this despairing wretch. If she 
refuse my prayer, and be proud and cruel, 
then must I either die or languish all my 
life with this wound ! " 

Thereupon he sighed; but in a little 
while made a new resolve, even to bear 
it, for so does he who can no better. 


All that night he wakened, in sighing 
and in sore trouble, remembering in his 
heart her words and her manner, her 
shining eyes and her sweet rnouth, that 
had brought this sorrow into his heart ! 
Between his teeth he cried out for mercy — 
almost called her his love ! 

If he had known how she too was over- 
come by love he would have been right 
glad, I trow ! Even a little relief would 
have lessened somewhat the woe that made 
him all pale. 

But if he was suffering for love of her, 
she indeed had no reason to boast. She 
arose in the morning ere dawn, complaining 
that love so overwhelmed her that she could 
not sleep. 

Her maiden knew well by her manner 
that she loved this knight now tarrying in 
her chamber until he should be healed ; but 
she knew not whether he loved the lady or 
no. So when the dame was gone to the 
chapel, her maiden went and sat down by 
the knight's bed, whereupon he called her^ 
saying : 

" Friend, whither is my lady gone ? Why 
is she arisen so early?" No more than this 
he said, yet he sighed. 

(Jttarie be Stance 

Said the damsel : " Sir, you are in love ! 
Now see to it that you hide it not over- 
much. It may be that your love is well 
bestowed. The man whom my lady 
would love ought verily to hold her in 
high honour ; yet, if you both should be 
constant, your love would be most fitting, 
for you are fair and she is fair ! " 

He answered the maid : " I am so over- 
come by love that I am surely undone, 
unless I have succour or aid. Counsel me, 
my sweet friend ! What shall I do with 
this love ? " 

She comforted him with great sweetness, 
and assured him that she would aid him as 
most she might ; for she was indeed 
courteous and debonair. 

When the lady had heard mass she came 
back, yet could not forget. She was eager 
to know how he did, whom she could not 
cease to love, and whether he waked or slept. 
And at once the damsel called her forth to 
come to the knight that she might at 
leisure show him all her heart, turn it to 
weal or woe. 

They greeted each other, shyly both. 
He scarcely dared entreat her, for he was 
a stranger, and feared that if he showed her 


his trouble she might hate him and drive 
him away. Yet he who shows not his 
sickness may not be cured ! Love is a 
wound within the heart ; and if it may not 
win its way out, 'tis an ill that lasts long, 
because it comes of Nature. Many hold it 
a light thing, like these churls that call 
themselves knights, who seek their own 
pleasure through the world, then boast of 
their evil deeds. This is not love, but 
rather folly, sin, and lechery. Whoever 
finds a true lover ought faithfully to serve 
and love and obey him. Now Guigemar 
loves so exceedingly, that, whether he is 
destined to have speedy help or to live 
against his will, love gives him courage to 
lay bare his heart. 

" Lady," he said, " I am dying for love 
of you ! My heart is so tortured that 
unless you will heal me I must verily die ! 
I would have you for my lady ; sweet, do 
not say me nay ! " 

When she had heard this, she answered 
modestly, though all smiling : " Friend, 
'twould be rather too soon to grant your 
prayer ; I am not wont so to do ! " 

" Lady," he pleaded, '' for God's sake, be 
not angry at what I shall tell you ! 'Tis 


(^]atie be Stance 

well enough for a light woman to make 
herself long entreated ; it will increase her 
value to be thought unused to love. But 
the pure-hearted woman, who is virtuous 
and of good discretion, if she find a man to 
her liking ought not to treat him too 
haughtily before she consent to love him. 
Before any one should know or hear of it, 
they might have much joy together. Fair 
lady, let us end this debate ! " 

She knew that his words were true, and 
granted him her love, whereupon he kissed 
her and henceforth was well at ease, as 
they dallied and spoke together, with kisses 
and embraces. Surely it is fitting that they 
should have a just share of what other folk 
are wont to have ! 

'Tis my belief that Guigemar was with 
her a year and a half, living in great joy. 
But Fortune is not idle ; nay, in a little 
while turns her wheel, putting one up and 
another down. So it was with them, for 
presently they were discovered. 

One morning in the springtide, as the 
lady lay beside her knight, she kissed his 
lips and his face, saying : " Fair sweet love, 
my heart tells me that I shall lose you -, we 
shall be spied upon and discovered. If you 

die, 1 would fain die ; but if you can escape 
you may find another love, and I shall abide 
desolate ! " 

"Lady," said he, "no more of this. 
Never should I have joy or peace with any 
woman but yourself ! Have no fear ! " 

"Friend, that I may be sure of this, 
let me take your tunic and plait in it a fold 
below the lappet in such wise that if any 
woman can undo it, or know how to take 
out the fold, her you may love with my 

He gave it to her, with assurances of his 
faith ; and she made the plait in such 
manner that no woman could undo it, 
unless she used force or knife. 

And when she returned the tunic, he 
took it upon the covenant that he might 
also be assured of her by means of a girdle. 
Whoso could open the buckle thereof, 
without breaking it or injuring it, him 
might she well love. Thereupon he kissed 
her, and with that was content. 

This very day they were observed and 
discovered by a chamberlain of evil cunning, 
whom his lord had sent thither to speak 
with the lady. He might not enter into 
the chamber, but he saw them through 

(tttarie be Stance 

a window, and returned to tell his 

When the baron heard this he was more 
sorrowful than ever before in his life. Call- 
ing three of his trusty men, he went suddenly 
to the chamber, and bade them break 
down the door ; and when he found the 
knight within, in his great fury told them 
to slay him. Guigemar rose to his feet, no 
whit a-dread. He seized in both hands a 
great beam of pine, on which clothes 
usually hung — so awaited them, thinking 
to make them sorry one and all ; nay, to 
cripple them, every man, ere they could 
approach him ! 

The baron looked at him hard, then 
asked him who he was, of what race, and 
how he had come there within. Guigemar 
told how he had arrived and how the lady 
had kept him — told all his fate, of the 
wounded hind, of the skifF, and of his own 
hurt, confessing that now is he utterly in 
the baron's power. 

The lord answered that he did not 
believe him ; yet if it were indeed as he had 
said, and the boat could be found, let him 
put it to sea again ; and if he were saved 
'twere pity, but if he drowned, well. 


The knight assured him once more. 
They went down together, found the vessel, 
launched it, and it departed with Guigemar 
to his own land. 

The skifF stayed not at all, but floated 
away, while the knight sighed and wept 
for his lady, and prayed God Omnipotent 
to grant him speedy death, and let him 
never come to port unless he might have 
his lady, whom he loved more than his life. 
In this sorrow he continued until the vessel 
had come to the harbour where first he had 
found it, hard by his own domain. 

Thereupon he disembarked at once, and 
beheld a squire, whom he had nurtured, 
riding after a knight and leading a horse. 
Guigemar knew him and called him by 
name ; and the lad, looking up and seeing 
his liege lord, dismounted and offered 
him the horse. They then went away 

Joyous were all Guigemar's friends at 
his return, and held him in high honour 
throughout the land ; but he was ever 
sorrowful and distraught, and when they 
urged him to marry refused utterly, saying 
that never would he take wife either for 
treasure or for love, unless she could 

(Starie ^e Stance 

unplait the fold in his tunic without tearing 
it. These tidingswent through allBrittany j 
and there was neither dame nor damsel who 
did not go thither to essay it, yet none could 
undo it. 

But now I must tell you of the lady 
whom Guigemar loved so dearly. Her 
husband, by the counsel of one of his 
barons, imprisoned her in a tower of grey 
marble, where ill was the day and the 
night worse. No man in the world could 
tell the great grief and the sorrow, the 
anguish and the woe, that she suffered in 
her tower for two years and more, I ween, 
with no joy or pleasure whatsoever. Again 
and again she made moan for her lover : 
" O Guigemar, my lord, woe that ever I 
saw you ! 'Tis better to die at once than 
to bear long such sorrow as mine ! If only 
I might escape, love, I would drown 
myself even where you were cast into the 
sea ! " 

Thereupon she arose and in her despair 
went to the door. Lo ! she found there 
nor key nor lock ; by good fortune passed 
out without hindrance, so came to the 
harbour, and even as she was about to 
drown herself, found the skiff fastened to a 

rock. She entered therein, thinking only 
how her lover had been drowned here -, 
and as she remembered, she could no 
longer stand, but even as she reached the 
brink, stumbled and fell forward into the 
boat. Heavy indeed was her sorrow and 
grief ! 

The skiff floated away, and bore her 
quickly thence to a port in Brittany, below 
a strong and splendid castle. 

Now the lord of this castle, who was 
called Meriadus, was making war on one 
of his neighbours, and arose in the morning 
betimes to send out his men to attack his 
foe. He was standing by the window and 
saw the skiff arrive ; and thereupon, calling 
his chamberlain, he descended the stairs 
and came at once to the vessel. They 
climbed aboard by means of a ladder, and 
found within the lady, who was lovely as a fay. 
He took her up in her mantle and bore her 
with him to his castle, greatly rejoicing in 
his treasure-trove, for she was fair beyond 
the telling. Whoever had put her in the 
skiff, Meriadus knew well that she was 
of gentle birth, and straightway loved her 
with such love that never had any woman 


(Jtlarie ^e Stance 

He commended her to his sister, who 
was a right fair maid. She took the lady 
into her bower, where she was well served 
and honoured, richly arrayed and adorned ; 
but yet she was ever pensive and mournful. 

The lord himself went often to speak 
with her, for he loved her with fair intent ; 
yet much as he sought her, she never took 
heed save to show him the girdle, saying 
that she would love only him who could 
undo it without breaking. Hearing this, 
he answered with ill humour : 

" Likewise there is in this land a knight 
of great renown, who saves himself from 
taking wife, by means of a plait in the right 
lappet of his tunic, which may not be un- 
done unless knife or force be put to it. 
You have made that plait, I trow ! " 

At these words she sighed and almost 
swooned, whereupon he caught her in his 
arms, severed the lace of her robe, and strove 
to unclasp the girdle, but might not suc- 
ceed. Afterwards was there no knight in 
that land, whom he did not make to essay it. 

Thus matters stood for a long time until 
it befel that Meriadus entered into a tour- 
nament with his enemy. And so he sum- 
moned many knights, and first among them 


Guigemar, to whom he offered guerdon if 
he would stand by him in this stour, and 
would bring friends and comrades to succour 
him. Hence Guigemar went thither in 
rich array, taking more than an hundred 

Meriadus entertained him with great 
honour in his castle. He sent word by two 
knights to his sister that she should attire 
herself duly and come forth to meet the 
guest, and bring also the lady whom he 
loved so well ; and she did as he com- 

In their splendid attire they came hand 
in hand into the hall. And when this pale 
and pensive lady heard Guigemar's name 
she could scarce stand ; indeed, if the other 
had not held her she would have fallen to 
the floor. 

The knight rose to meet them, but when 
he saw the lady, studied her face and her 
bearing, and drew back a little, saying to 

" Is this my sweet friend, my hope, my 
heart, my life, my dear lady who loves me ? 
Whence is she come ? Who brought her 
hither ? Now verily I am thinking non- 
sense, for I know well that it cannot be she 

(gtaifie be Stance 

— women are much alike ! My thoughts 
are stirred in vain, because this woman only 
resembles her for whom my heart longs and 
sighs. Yet will I speak to her gladly ! " 

Then he advanced and kissed her, and 
sat down by her side, though he spoke no 
word beyond asking leave to sit there. 

Meriadus watched them, sorely troubled 
at their looks, yet said to Guigemar, with 
a laugh : 

" Sir, so please you, this damsel will essay 
to unplait your tunic, if perchance she may 

He answered, " I grant this," and calling 
the chamberlain, who had charge of the 
tunic, bade him bring it. But when it was 
given to the maiden in no wise might she 
undo it. 

The lady knew the fold well, and her 
heart beat wildly for her eagerness to make 
the essay, if she might, or dared. Meriadus 
perceiving this, was sorrowful as never 
before, yet said : 

" Dame, do you now try if you can un- 
plait it." 

When she heard this command, she took 
hold of the lappet of the tunic, and undid 
it easily. 



The knight marvelled, for, though he 
knew her well, he could not bring himself 
to believe fully, and spoke to her in this wise : 

" Love, sweet thing, is it you ? Tell 
me truly ! Let me see the girdle where- 
with I girt you." 

Putting his arms about her, he felt the 
girdle, and said further : 

"Sweet, what a strange chance that I 
have found you thus ! Who brought you 
hither ? " 

She told him all the sorrow and the an- 
guish and the woe of the prison where she 
had been, how at length she had escaped 
and would have drowned herself, but 
chanced upon the skiff, entered it, and was 
borne away to this castle. Here the knight 
had maintained her in great honour, though 
he was always seeking her love — but now 
is all her joy returned ! " Friend, take 
away your lady ! " 

Guigemar rose to his feet and said : 
" Hearken to me, sir. I have found here 
my dear lady whom I thought to have lost. 
I ask and implore you, Meriadus, of your 
mercy to give her up to me, and I will be- 
come your liegeman and serve you two years 
or three with an hundred knights or more." 

(Slarie be Stance 

Then Meriadus answered : " Guigemar, 
my good friend, I am no longer so oppressed 
or burdened by any war that you should 
ask this of me. I found the lady and I 
will keep her ; and, moreover, I will main- 
tain my right to her against you in com- 
bat ! " 

When Guigemar heard this he called 
his men to horse and rode away with a 
challenge, though it grieved him sorely to 
leave his lady. 

All the knights in the town, who had 
come thither to the tournament, followed 
Guigemar, pledging him their faith to go 
whithersoever he went — 'twere great shame 
if any failed him now. That same night 
they arrived at the castle which Meriadus 
was attacking. The lord of this was joyful 
and glad to harbour them ; for he knew 
well that with the aid of Guigemar his 
war was ended. 

On the morrow they rose betimes, armed 
themselves in their lodgings, and issued 
forth from the town with great clangor, 
Guigemar at their head. Finding that the 
castle was too strong to be taken by assault, 
they laid siege to it, for Guigemar would 
not turn hence until he had captured it. His 

friends and followers grew ever in strength 
until at last they reduced those within 
by hunger, seized and destroyed the castle, 
and slew its lord. 

And with great joy Guigemar took away 
his lady, for now is all his woe overpassed. 

Of this story which you have heard was 
made the Lay of Guigemar. Folk tell it to 
the harp and to the rote ; and the music 
of it is sweet to hear. 





WILL tell you the Lay 
of the Ash Tree^ even 
as I know it. 

Long ago there dwelt 
in Brittany two knights 
hard by each other. 
They were rich and of 
good estate, worthy and 
valiant men ; kinsmen too they were and of 
one land. Each had married him a wife. 

One of the dames in due course had 
twin-sons ; whereupon her lord was blithe 
and merry, and for the joy that he had, sent 
his good neighbour tidings how his wife 
had two sons, one of whom should be sent 
him for fosterage, and should bear his name. 
Now as this other knight was sitting at 
dinner, lo ! the messenger entered, and 
kneeling before the daYs, delivered his tidings, 
for which the lord thanked God, and gave 
the bearer a good horse. 

But the lady laughed as she sat by her 
husband at table, for she was false and 
proud-hearted, evil of speech and full of 
envy. Right foolishly she talked, saying 
in the presence of all her folk : 

"So help me God, I marvel that this 
good man has been so ill-advised as to send 

OQHatte be Stcince 

my lord word of his dishonour, in that his 
wife has had twin-children. They are alike 
put to shame in this thing, for we know well 
that it never could befall a virtuous woman ; 
it never was, nor ever shall come to pass ! " 

Her husband, who was watching her, 
chid her sternly. "Wife," he said, "let be ! 
You should not speak thus, for truly the 
lady has always been of good report." 

These words were marked by the folk 
of the household, and were soon spread 
abroad through all Brittany, so that the 
foolish dame was much despised, especially 
by women, both rich and poor. And after- 
wards grievous misfortune came upon her 
because of her folly ! 

The messenger told his lord what had 
happened ; and he, hearing the tale, was 
sorrowful and knew not what to do. But 
he began to hate his good wife and sorely to 
mistrust her, and so kept her inclose durance, 
although she was in no wise to blame. 

Yet within the year was she avenged. 
This same neighbour who had spoken so 
ill, herself became the mother of twin- 
daughters. And because of this she had 
bitter grief, and bewailed herself, saying : 

" Alas ! what shall I do ? Now verily 


t^e (3:00 tree 

am I put to shame, and never again shall 
be held in honour 1 My husband and my 
kinsmen — surely they will lose all faith in 
me when they hear of this mischance ! I 
judged myself in speaking ill against all 
women, when I said that it never happened 
— nor have we seen such a thing ! — that a 
virtuous woman might have twin-children. 
Yet have I two, and, I trow, no worse thing 
could befall me ! He who slanders another, 
and speaks falsely against him, knows not 
what may hang over his own head ; hence, 
one should speak of his neighbour only 
when he can praise. To save my good 
name I must put to death one of the 
babes, for it is easier to do penance before 
God than to be dishonoured in the sight of 
men ! " 

Her chamberwomen consoled her as they 
could, but declared that they should not 
permit this deed ; for murder is no light 
thing ! But one of them, a maiden of 
gentle birth, whom for a long time the 
lady had fostered and cherished with all 
tenderness, was much distressed to behold 
her grief and to hear her sorrowful lamenta- 
tions, and came to comfort her. 

" Lady," she said, " this is to no purpose ; 

QJtatie ^e Stance 

you will do better to make an end of your 
sorrowing. Give me one of the babes — 
so ! To spare you shame I will take it 
away, and you shall never see it again. I will 
bear it all safe and sound to a monastery, 
and leave it where some good man may 
find it, and, please God, take it to foster." 

The lady hearing this, was joyful, and 
promised the damsel fair guerdon for doing 
her this service. They wrapped the gentle 
babe in a piece of fine linen, and put over 
this a spangled silk of wondrous beauty 
that the knight had brought back from 
Constantinople when he was there. More- 
over, with a strip of her girdle, the lady 
tied to the child's arm a heavy ring, as 
much as an ounce of pure gold, the circlet 
being engraved and set with a ruby. This 
she did that whosoever found the little maid 
might know that she was born of high 

Then the damsel took the babe and went 
forth from the chamber. And when the 
darkness of evening had fallen, she set out 
from the village by a highway leading into 
the forest. Straight through the wood she 
went, never once leaving the highway, and 
came out safely with the child. Presently 

t^e ($66 tree 

she heard far off to the right the barking 
of dogs and crowing of cocks ; and in this 
direction she turned her steps, hoping to 
come upon a village. And after a while she 
entered one that seemed fair and thriving, 
in which she found an exceeding rich and 
well-appointed abbey, where, as I know 
well, lived nuns and the abbess who ruled 

When the maiden saw the monastery, 
with its towers, its walls, and its belfry, she 
went quickly up to the gate, and laying 
down before it the child that she carried, 
made her orison : 

" O God," she prayed, " by Thy Holy 
Name, Lord, if it be Thy will, save this 
little one from death ! " 

When she had ended her prayer, she 
looked behind her and saw a spreading ash 
tree, dense with boughs and branches, 
which had been planted there for shade. 
So, taking the child in her arms again, she 
came running thither and put the little one 
within the tree where the trunk split into 
four forks. Then, commending it to God, 
she returned and told her lady what she had 

In this abbey was a porter, whose duty 

(gtarie ^e Stance 

it was to open the outer gate of the monas- 
tery when folk came to hear the service. 
On this self-same night he rose betimes, 
lighted candles and lamps, and rang the 
bells. When he opened the gate he spied 
the garments on the ash tree, and supposed 
that some one had taken them in theft and 
had hidden them there — he had no thought 
of anything else. 

He went thither faster than he well 
could, reached up and found the child ; 
whereupon not having the heart to leave 
it there, he thanked God and carried it 
home to his dwelling. 

With him lived his daughter, a widow, 
who had a little babe in the cradle, still 
unweaned. Her the good man roused, 
calling : 

" Come, daughter, rise now, and light 
fire and candle. I have brought in a 
child that I found outside in the ash 
tree. Give it some milk, warm it, and 
bathe it ! " 

She at his bidding lighted the fire and 
took the little one, warmed it, bathed it, 
and gave it milk. And when they had 
looked upon the rich and beautiful mantle, 
and had found the ring on the httle arm, 

t^e ®65 tree 

they knew well enough that the child was 
born of great folk. 

On the morrow, after the service, when 
the abbess came out of the church, the 
porter went up to tell her of the babe that 
he had found ; and was straightway com- 
manded to bring it to her, just as it was 
when he found it. 

The porter went home and took the 
babe gladly to show his lady. And when 
she had looked at it hard for a while, she 
said that she would take it to foster and 
give out that it was her niece. Moreover, 
she forbade the porter to tell how the 
matter really stood. 

So the abbess herself reared the child, 
and called her, because she had been found 
in the ash tree, Le Fraisne^ and by this 
name she came to be known. 

Thus for a long time she remained 
concealed, being nurtured within the mon- 
astery-close as the niece of the abbess. 
When she was seven years old, she was a 
fair maid and tall for her age ; and as soon 
as she was old enough to understand reason, 
the abbess, who loved her with all tender- 
ness and clad her richly, had her well in- 
structed. By the time that she came to 

QJtarte be Sv^^nce 

the age of beauty, she was the fairest 
damsel and the most courteous in all 
Brittany. So lovely was she and so man- 
nerly, both in bearing and in speech, that 
all who beheld her loved her and praised 
marvellously j and great lords came to the 
abbess, asking leave to see and to speak 
with her fair niece. 

Now there was a certain lord of Dol, 
named Gurun — the best seigneur indeed 
that ever was or will be — who heard tell of 
this maiden. Straightway he loved her; 
and as he was going to a tournament, 
came back by way of the abbey. And 
when the abbess at his request brought the 
maiden before him, he found her so beautiful 
and so well taught, so discreet and gracious, 
and endued with virtues, that unless he 
might win her love he would hold himself 
most wretched of men. Yet he was with- 
out counsel and knew no way, for if he 
came there often the abbess would soon 
understand, and would make an end of his 
seeing the damsel 

But presently he devised a thing : to 

endow the abbey with so much of his land 

that it would be the richer ever after. 

Therefore to win him friendship and leave 


t^e (^6? tree 

to enter there and sojourn at his will, he 
gave largely of his possessions. I warrant 
you he had other reason than the salvation 
of his soul ! 

Thus he went many times to the convent 
and talked with the maiden until at length, 
by prayers and promises, he won her love. 
And when he was assured of this, he said 
to her one day : 

" Sweet, now this is how it is : since you 
have made me your lover, it is better that 
you should come away with me altogether. 
I say what I think, you know, that if your 
aunt should discover this she would be 
sorely distressed. So, if you take my coun- 
sel, you will come away with me. Certes ! 
I will never be false to you, but will care 
for you most tenderly ! " 

She loved him so dearly that she granted 
what he pleased, and so went away with 
him to his castle. But perhaps it may yet 
be well with her, for she took with her the 
silken mantle and the ring, which the abbess 
had given her. Indeed the damsel knew all 
that had happened from the time that she 
was put away : how she was cradled in the 
ash tree, how the mantle and the ring, and 
nothing else, had been left with her by 

(gtarie be Stance 

those who put her away, and how the 
abbess had fostered her as a niece. Know- 
ing this story she had kept these things 
carefully locked in a coffer, and was un- 
willing to leave them behind. 

Now this knight with whom she fled 
loved her most tenderly j and among all 
his liegemen and servants there was not 
one, great or small, who did not cherish 
her and honour her for her gentlehood. 

She was with him a long time, until at 
last the knights who had fief of him, 
thought ill of it, and told him again and 
again that he should put her away and 
espouse a lady of noble birth. They would 
rejoice if he had heir to hold after him his 
land and his heritage ; indeed, he wronged 
them too greatly in that, for love of his 
mistress, he had neither wife nor child. 
Nay, more, they would not hold him as 
seigneur, nor be willing to do him service, 
unless he yielded to their demand. And 
at last the knight consented, upon their 
urging, to take wife. 

Then further they bethought them who 
she should be, and said : 

" Sire, there is a nobleman dwelling hard 
by you who has spoken with us on this 

t^e (^6$ tree 

matter. He has but one daughter and no 
other heir ; hence with her you may gain 
much land. The maiden, who is the 
fairest in all this realm, is called La Coidre ; 
and so for Le Fraisne whom you give up 
you shall have in recompense La Coidre; 
for the barren Ash the Hazel with its 
pleasant nuts. We shall speak fair for the 
maiden, and, please God, shall bring her to 

Accordingly they arranged this marriage, 
and ratified it on all sides. Alas ! what an 
ill chance that these worthy men knew 
not that the damsels were twin-sisters ! Le 
Fraisne was put away that her lover might 
marry her sister. 

When she heard of this she gave no sign 
of anger, but continued to serve her lord in 
all kindness and to honour his folk. But 
the knights of the household, nay even the 
squires and the pages, grieved marvellously 
because they must lose her. 

On the day agreed upon for the wedding, 
the knight summoned his friends, and 
among them the Archbishop of Dol, who 
held fief of him. 

With the bride came her mother, much 
fearing that her daughter would be abused 

(gtatie be Stance 

to the knight by the damsel whom he loved 
so well ; hence she was minded to counsel 
him that he dismiss her from his household, 
and rid himself of her by wedding her to 
some honest man. 

The marriage feast was held with great 
splendour and rejoicing. All the while, 
the damsel was in the chamber, yet never 
once, for anything that she saw, made sign 
of grief nor even of vexation. Sweetly and 
right deftly she served before the lady, so 
that all the guests, men and women alike, 
held her demeanour in great marvel. Even 
her mother, who watched her closely, com- 
mended her in her own heart, and loved 
her, thinking that if she had known what 
manner of woman this was, not for her 
own daughter's sake would she have undone 
her by parting her from her lord. 

At night the damsel withdrew to prepare 
the bed for the bride. Putting aside her 
mantle, she called the chamberlains, and 
showed them the way that her lord wished 
it — for often enough had she seen it. When 
they had made it ready, they placed upon 
it as coverlet an old l?ofu-c\oth.. But the 
maiden was vexed because it seemed to her 
no longer good enough, so she went to her 


t^c (^0$ ttee 

coffer and took out her silken mantle to 
lay upon the bed. For her lord's honour 
she did this, since the archbishop, according 
to his duty, would come into the chamber 
to bless the newly-wedded, and to sign 
them with the cross. 

When the chamber was empty, the 
dame entered to bring the bride to bed, 
and bade disrobe her. Presently she beheld 
the silk coverlet on the bed, the fairest she 
had ever looked upon, save that alone which 
she had wrapped about her little daughter 
whom she had put away. And as she re- 
membered all this, her heart trembled. 
She called to her the chamberlain, and said : 

" Tell me, by thy faith, where this good 
silk was found ! " 

"Lady," he said, "you shall know at 
once. The damsel brought it to throw 
over the coverlet, because this seemed to 
her not good enough. I trow that the silk 
is hers." 

Thereupon the lady sent for her, and 
she came in, humbly laying aside her 

"Dear child,"said the lady, "hide nothing 
from me. Where did you get this mantle 
of fair silk ? How did it come to you ? 
49 i> 

(gtatrie ^e Stance 

Who gave it you ? Now tell me who 
gave it you ! " 

The damsel answered : " Lady, the 
abbess, my aunt, who fostered me, gave it 
me, bidding me keep it well, for this and a 
ring were left with me by those who sent 
me away to be nurtured." 

" Dear, may I see the ring? " 

" Yes, lady, right willingly." 

And when she had brought the ring, 
the lady looked at it long, knowing it 
as she had known the mantle j and when 
she had heard the whole story, being 
assured beyond doubt that Le Fraisne 
was her daughter, she hid it no longer, 
but said : 

" Thou art my child, dear heart ! " 

For sheer pity she fell back in a swoon ; 
but presently recovered and sent in all haste 
for her husband. 

He came thither greatly amazed ; and no 
sooner had he entered the room than she 
threw herself at his feet, and kissing them 
often, sought pardon for her misdeed. 
But he could not understand what she 

" Wife," he said, " what is this you are 
saying ? Between us can be no such word 

t^c (^05 tree 

as pardon but since you will have it so, 
you are forgiven. Tell me what you 

" My lord, now that you have forgiven 
me, I will tell you, if you will listen. Long 
ago, through great discourtesy, I spoke 
foolishly about my neighbour, and slandered 
her because of her twin-children 3 but all 
the while I was speaking to my own 
hurt, for afterwards, of a truth, I had 
twin-daughters. But I concealed one 
of them, sending her away to a monas- 
tery, and with her your silk mantle and 
the ring that you gave me when you 
first spoke with me. And now I may 
not hide it longer, for I have found 
them here, and thereby have discovered 
our daughter, whom through my folly I 
had lost. This is she, this damsel who 
is so modest and wise and fair that she 
was loved by the knight who has wedded 
her sister." 

The baron answered : " This rejoices 
my heart ; never before have I been so 
glad ! Verily God has been merciful to us 
in restoring our daughter before we should 
have doubled our sins against her. My 
child, come to me ! " 

(^atie be Stance 

And the damsel, hearing all this, was 
exceeding glad. 

Her father would not delay longer, but 
went himself to his son-in-law and the 
archbishop, and brought them thither, re- 
peating to them this strange chance. And 
when the young knight heard it, he was 
more glad than ever before in his life. But 
the archbishop counselled that they let be 
for that night, and on the morrow he would 
annul the marriage and wed Gurun to his 
love. They accorded that it should be 

On the morrow this was done ; and the 
damsel's father with right good will gave 
her away as bride, and with her a share in 
his heritage. And he, with his wife and 
daughter, remained at the wedding as long 
as it lasted. 

They made anew a banquet so splendid 
that even a rich man might well grudge 
what they spent upon it. For their joy 
in their daughter, fair and stately as a 
queen, whom they had so marvellously 
recovered, they had a wondrous merry- 

Presently they returned to their domain 
with their daughter. La Coldrcj and after- 

$9e dXs^ tree 

wards in their own realm she was well 
bestowed in marriage. 

When this adventure came to be known, 
the Lay of the Ash Tree was made thereof, 
and so named for the lady's sake. 



'ONG ago there befell in 
Normandy an adventure 
often told, of two young 
lovers, who through their 
love died. Of this the 
^ BlLhS^^ Britons made a lay called 
i.'^iL^ A y^z}M Les Dous Amanz. 

It is well known that 
in Neustria, which we call Normandy, there 
is a great mountain marvellous high, on 
which is the tomb of these lovers. Near 
this mountain on one side, a king who was 
lord of the Pistreis, with good judgment 
and care, had built him a city, and from 
his folk called it Pitres. There is still a 
town of that name in this place ; and indeed 
the whole country, as we know well, is 
called the Vale of Pitres. 

Now this king had a daughter, a fair 
and gentle maiden. She was his only child, 
and dearly he loved and cherished her. 
Though she was sought in marriage by 
great lords, who gladly would have had her 
to wife, the king was so loth to part with 
her that he would never consent. Since 
the death of his queen she had been his 
only comfort, and he must needs have her 
near him day and night. This too, although 

(gtarie ^e Stance 

many turned it to ill, and his own men 
blamed him for it. 

When he heard what folk were saying, 
he was sorely perplexed and troubled -, and 
began to wonder how he might free himself 
from this seeking of his daughter. Accord- 
ingly, he made proclamation far and wide, 
saying : 

Whoso would marry his daughter, let 
him know of a truth one thing: it had 
been decreed that he must first carry her 
in his arms, without pausing for rest, to 
the top of the mountain near the city. 

When these tidings were known and 
spread through the country, many knights 
essayed the feat, but could bring it to no 
ending. Some indeed by using all their 
strength could carry her half-way up the 
mountain, but no further; hence there 
must let be. A long time she remained 
unbestowed, in that no one came to seek 

There was in this land a goodly and 
noble squire, the son of a count, who above 
all others set himself to win glory by his 
prowess. He was familiar at the king's 
court, since he often sojourned there ; and 
he came to love the princess. Again and 


t^e tt0o feotjere 

again he besought her to show him favour 
and grant him her love, and inasmuch as 
he was brave and courteous, and much 
praised of the king, she assented thereto ; 
and he thanked her in all humility for her 

Often times they spoke together, and 
loved each other well, yet must hide it as 
far as they could from all eyes. Grievous 
as this was, the lad bethought him that it 
was better to endure this constraint than 
hasten over much and lose his lady. Yet 
was he so sore distraught for love, this fair 
and goodly squire, that on a time he came 
to his love, and with sorrowful plaint 
begged her distressfully to flee with him, 
since he could no longer bear this woe. 
He knew well that if he asked her of her 
father, he might never win her, unless he 
could carry her in his arms to the top of 
the mountain. 

The damsel answered him, saying : 
"Friend, I know well that it would not 
avail you to attempt this feat — you are not 
strong enough. And if I were to flee 
with you, my father would be so grieved 
and angry that it were torment for him to 
live; and certainly I love him too well to 

(Jttarte ^e Stance 

distress him in this way. We must find 
other counsel, for to this 1 will not hearken. 
But I have a kinswoman in Salerno, a rich 
dame and of great rent, who has been there 
more than thirty years, and practised the 
art of medicine until she is wise in potions 
and cunning in herbs and roots. If you go 
to her with a letter from me, and show her 
all your state, she will consider how she 
may help you, and will give you such 
draughts and such electuaries that they will 
comfort you and give you strength. Then 
return to this land and seek me of my 
father, even though he deem you but a 
child and tell you the condition, that only 
by carrying me up the mountain without 
pause for rest may a man win me; and 
even though he hold with all courtesy that 
it may not be otherwise." 

The squire, rejoicing greatly in his lady's 
counsel, thanked her and asked her leave 
to depart to his own domain. There he 
speedily provided himself with rich robes 
and deniers, with palfreys and pack-horses ; 
and taking with him the most trusty of 
his men, went to Salerno to speak with his 
lady's kinswoman. 

He gave her his letter, and when she 

had read it from beginning to end, she kept 
him with her until she knew all his state. 
Then she strengthened him with potions, 
and further gave him a draught such that 
he should never be so for-worn by travail, 
nor so weary nor so oppressed that it would 
not refresh his whole body, alike his veins 
and his bones, and give him his full strength 
as soon as he had drunk it. 

Thereupon the squire, all joyous and 
glad at heart, returned to his own land, 
having the draught with him in a phial. 
He went straightway to the king to ask 
for his daughter, that he might take her 
and carry her up the mountain. 

The king did not refuse him, though he 
thought it great folly, in that he was but a 
lad, and many good men, strong and wise, 
had essayed this feat and could bring it to 
no ending. But he appointed a time, and 
summoned his liegemen and his friends, 
and all whom he could get together. For 
the sake of the princess and of the lad 
who undertook the adventure of carrying 
her up the mountain, they came thither 
from all parts. 

On the day of their assembling, the 
squire was there first of all, by no means 

(gtatie be Stance 

forgetting his draught. Then among the 
great folk gathered in the meadow along 
the Seine, the king led forth his daughter, 
who, to help her lover, had made herself as 
thin as possible by fasting, and was now 
clad in smock alone. 

The squire took her in his arms; and 
knowing well that she would not betray 
him, gave her the little phial with all the 
draught, to carry in her hand. Yet I fear 
that it will not avail him, for in him is 
no measure at all ! 

He set out with her at a great pace, and 
climbed the mountain to half its height. 
And for the joy that he had in her, he was 
all unmindful of the drink ; but she felt 
that he was wearying. 

" Dear," she said, " drink now. I know 
well that you are weary, and thus will you 
regain your strength." 

The squire answered, " Sweet, I feel my 
heart all strong. By no means would I 
stop long enough to drink, while I am able 
to go three steps. Yonder folk would cry 
out upon us and would confuse me with 
their noise, so that they might easily hinder 
me. I will not stop here." 

When he had climbed two-thirds of the 

way, he could scarcely stand. Again and 
again the maiden implored him, " Love, 
drink the potion ! " But now he would 
not hear her or heed, as he struggled on in 
great anguish. He came at last to the 
mountain-top, but so for-spent that he fell 
there and rose not again, for the heart 
failed in his breast. 

The maiden, as she looked upon her 
lover, deemed him in swoon ; and falling 
on her knees by his side, strove to give him 
the drink. But he could not speak to her, 
and died as I have told you. 

She mourned him with much shrill 
crying; and presently cast from her and 
shattered the vessel with its draught. The 
mountain was well sprinkled with it, so that 
in summer all the land thereabouts was the 
richer for it. There is many a good herb 
found to-day that had its root in the potion. 

But to speak again of the maiden. Never 
in all her life was she so sorrowful as now 
in losing her lover. She threw herself upon 
him, clasped him in her arms and held him 
close, often kissing his eyes and mouth, 
until her grief touched her to the quick; 
and there she died, this damsel so gentle 
and wise and fair. 


(gtarie be Stance 

The king and his men awaited them 
long; and perceiving at last that they 
would not come, went up and found them 
thus. Thereupon the king fell to the earth 
in a swoon, and when he could speak made 
exceeding great dole ; and so did the folk 
from other lands. 

Three days they kept the twain above 
earth, then placed them in a marble tomb, 
by the counsel of all buried them on the 
mountain ; and presently went their ways. 

The story of the two young lovers, from 
whom the mountain is called La Cote des 
Deux Arnants^ befell even as I have told you ; 
and the Britons made it into a lay. 



INCE I have under- 
taken these lays, how- 
ever great the labour, 
I will not leave them 
unfinished; but will tell 
in rhyme all the adven- 
turesthat I know. And 
now it is in my thought 
to tell you ot Yonec, whose son he was, 
and how his father, Muldumarec, first 
came to his mother. 

In Britain long ago there dwelt a rich 
man and very ancient, who was provost of 
Caruent, and lord of the land round about. 
This city is on the river Duelas, where in 
ancient times folk crossed by a ferry. 

Now this old man was heavy-burdened 
with years, yet since he had a goodly heri- 
tage, he took wife for the sake of children 
to hold his land after him. The lady who 
was bestowed upon him was of high rank, 
and moreover discreet and gentle and pass- 
ing fair, so that for her beauty he loved 
her well. What need of more words? As 
far as Lincoln, nay, even to Iceland, there 
was none so lovely as she ! It was a great 
sin to marry her to this lord, for in that 
she was so fair and sweet, he thought only 

Otarie be Stance 

how to guard her well, and shut her up in 
a great paved chamber in his tower. 

And the better to keep watch over her, 
he placed there also his sister, an ancient 
dame, and widowed of her husband. There 
were other women as well, I trow, in a 
chamber by themselves ; but the lady might 
not speak to them unless the aged dame 
gave her leave. 

In this wise, even though they had no 
child, he kept her more than seven years, 
so that she never once went out of the 
tower to see either kinsman or friend. And 
when her lord went there to sleep, he 
would not allow usher or chamberlain to 
enter the room or to light candle for him. 
Accordingly, the lady was in such deep 
sadness that with her tears and sighs and 
lamentations she lost her beauty, even as 
one who has no care for it; and wished 
only that death would come quickly and 
take her. 

One morning in the beginning of April 
when birds sing all the while, this lord 
arose early and went to walk in the woods, 
bidding the old woman to rise at once and 
make fast the door after him. She did as 
he commanded, then passed into another 


room with her psalter in her hand, to read 
verses therein. 

The lady, wide-awake and in tears, 
watched the clear light of the sun; and 
when she perceived that the old woman 
was gone forth from the chamber, sighed 
and fell into bitter weeping, bewailing 
herself and saying: 

"Alas, would that I had never been 
born ! Hard is my fate, in that I am shut 
up in this tower, and may never leave it 
until I die. This jealous old man, of whom 
is he afraid, that he keeps me in such close 
prison ? Indeed, he is foolish and cowardly 
in thus fearing ever to be betrayed. I may 
not even go to church to hear God's ser- 
vice! If only I might talk with other 
people, and go with my husband when he 
takes his pleasure, I would show him fair 
looks, nor have any wish to be false to him. 
Accursed be my kinsmen and the others 
who bestowed me upon this Jealous, and 
wedded me to him, for now am I always 
puUing and dragging at a strong cord ! He 
will never die! When he was baptized, he 
was plunged into the river of hell, so that 
his nerves and his veins are all hard, and 
filled with the sap of life I 


QJtarie be Stance 

" Yet I have heard tell sometimes, how in 
this land long ago folk found ways to rescue 
the unhappy. Knights could have sweet 
and fair maidens, if they would; and ladies 
might have goodly and courteous lovers, 
strong men and valiant, and this without 
any blame whatsoever, for they were in- 
visible to all save themselves. If this may 
be, and has been, if it ever befell any one, 
may the Almighty God grant me my 
heart's desire ! " 

When she had ended her plaint, she 
beheld the shadow of a great bird athwart 
a narrow window — and knew not what 
this might be. It flew into the room, a 
falcon seemingly of five or six moultings, 
and crouched before her. And when it 
had been . there a little while, even as she 
watched it, it changed into a fair and 
gentle knight. 

Now the lady held this for a great 
marvel. Her blood curdled and froze, and 
she covered her head for affright. But the 
stranger was full of courtesy, and at once 
reassured her. 

" Lady," he said, " have no fear. The 
falcon is a gentle bird, even though the 
mystery of his coming be dark to you. 


Look to it that you be unobserved, then 
take me for your lover. To this very end 
am I come hither, for I have loved you 
long, and in my heart desired you. I have 
never loved woman save you alone, nor 
will I love any other ; but I could not 
leave my own country to come to you 
until you wished for me. Now I may be 
your lover ! " 

The lady took courage, uncovered her 
head and answered the knight, saying that 
she would have him for her friend on one 
condition. If he believed in God, she was 
content that there be love between them, 
for he was the fairest knight that she had 
looked upon in all her life, nor would she 
ever again see one so goodly. 

" Lady, you speak well," said he. " In 
no wise would I that you have any cause 
to doubt or to suspect me. I believe verily 
in the Creator, who delivered us from the 
woe of death, wherein our father, Adam, 
placed us, because of the bitter apple. He is, 
and was always, and shall be, life and light to 
sinners. If still you doubt me in this, send 
for your chaplain, saying that illness has 
come upon you, and you would take the 
Sacrament, which God has ordained in the 

(gtarie be Stance 

world to save sinners. I will make myself 
like you in appearance, and thus will re- 
ceive the Body of the Lord God ; and I 
will tell you all my creed, so that you shall 
be in no manner of doubt." 

She answered that he spoke well. There- 
upon he sat down beside her ; but in 
no wise would he as yet kiss her or em- 

Presently the old woman returned, and 
finding the lady awake, said that it was 
time to arise, and that she would fetch her 
garments. But the lady answered that she 
was ill, and that the chaplain should be 
sent for, to come at once, for she was in 
great fear of death. 

The aged dame said : ^' Well, you must 
bear it. My lord has gone into the woods, 
and none may enter here within save 

Then indeed the lady was greatly af- 
frighted, and made pretence of swooning. 
And when the other saw this, she was so 
dismayed that she undid the chamber door 
and asked for the priest. He came thither 
as quickly as he could, bearing corpus domin'i ; 
and when the knight had received it, and 
had drunk wine from the chalice, the 


chaplain went away again, and the old 
woman made fast the door. 

Never have I seen so fair a couple as 
this lady and her lover. But presently 
when they had been happy together awhile, 
and had talked to their heart's content, the 
knight took leave, for he must needs return 
to his own country. Most sweetly she 
prayed him to come back to her often. 

" Lady," he said, " whenever you please. 
Not an hour shall pass by without my 
coming, if only you take heed, so that 
neither of us be suspected. This old woman 
will watch day and night to betray us ; and 
when she perceives our love, will bear word 
of it to her lord. If it should happen as 
I say, and we should be betrayed, I could 
never escape, but should have to die here." 

With these words he departed ; but left 
the lady well content. On the morrow 
she arose quite recovered ; and the whole 
week was full of joy to her. She tended 
her body with such great care that she soon 
regained her beauty. Now is she happier 
in biding at home than in going to any 
mirth whatsoever. Often she longs to see 
her friend and to be happy with him, and 
as soon as her husband is departed, night 

(glatie ^e Stance 

and day, early and late, she has him at her 

will. May God grant them long to joy ! 

For the great gladness that she had in 
seeing her lover so often, her whole appear- 
ance was changed. Hence, her husband, 
who was right crafty, perceived in his heart 
that things were otherwise than usual ; and 
mistrusting his sister somewhat, took her to 
task one day, saying that he marvelled that 
his wife should so apparel herself, and asking 
what this meant. 

The old dame answered that she knew 
not, for none might speak with her, nor 
had she lover or friend. Only one thing 
had she herself perceived, that the lady 
remained alone more willingly than she 
was wont to do. 

Thereupon the lord made answer : 

"By my faith," he said, "I believe it 
well. But now it behoves you to do some- 
thing. In the morning when I have risen 
and you have made fast the door, pretend 
to go away and leave her lying alone. But 
stay in some secret place, and watch and 
mark what this may be, and whence it 
comes that she has in herself such great 

And with this counsel they parted. 


Alas, in evil plight were they who were 
thus plotted against, to their betrayal and 
their undoing ! 

Three days later, I have heard tell, the 
lord feigned to go away, saying to his wife 
that the king had sent for him by letter, 
but that he would soon return. Then he 
went out of the chamber, and made fast 
the door; and the old dame arose and hid 
behind a curtain, in the hope of seeing and 
hearing what she was eager to know. 

The lady lay still but not asleep, for she 
was longing for her friend. He came at 
once, nor delayed even a moment. Great 
was their joy together, as appeared both by 
words and by looks, until it was time to 
arise, when he must needs depart. 

The old woman watched well, noting 
how he came and went, though when she 
saw him now man and now falcon, she was 
in great fear. 

Upon the return of the lord, who had 
not journeyed far, she revealed to him the 
truth concerning the knight. He fell into 
deep study, and speedily devised a trap 
whereby to slay the stranger. He had 
great prongs of iron forged, and their edges 
sharpened in front until they were keener 

(Jttaifie ^e Stance 

than any razor under heaven. When he 
had them all finished, and pointed in dif- 
ferent directions, he placed them, well 
serried and firmly fixed, on the window by 
which the knight entered when he visited 
the lady. God ! that he knew nothing or 
the treachery planned by these wretches ! 

On the morrow morning, the lord arose 
at dawn, saying that he would go a-hunting. 
The old woman helped him forth, then 
lay down again to sleep until it should be 
full day. 

The lady was awake and waiting for him 
whom she loved dearly ; and said to her- 
self that now was a time when he might 
well come and be with her. 

As soon as she had wished for him, he 
came with no delay, flying into the win- 
dow; but the prongs were in the way, and 
one of them pierced his body, so that the 
red blood gushed out. 

When he knew that he was wounded to 
the death, he freed himself from the iron, 
and entering alighted in front of the lady, 
on the bed, so that all the coverings were 
blood-stained. Thereupon she shrank back 
in horror at the sight. He said to her: 

" My sweet friend, for love of you I am 

losing my life. Surely I have told you 
that your changed looks would undo us." 

Hearing this, she fell back in a swoon ; 
and remained thus while one might run a 

Sweetly he strove to comfort her, saying 
that grief was of no avail; let her think of 
the child that was to comj, the strong and 
valiant son, who would be her comfort ; and 
he, who should be called Yonec, would 
avenge them both by slaying their enemy. 

But the knight could stay no longer, for 
his wound bled unceasingly; and so de- 
parted with great sorrow and anguish. 

Yet she followed him, crying aloud, and 
passed through the window after him — 'tis 
a marvel that she was not killed, for there 
where she escaped was a fall of twenty 

Clad in her smock only, she followed 
the track of the knight's blood along the 
windings and wanderings of the road until 
it brought her finally to a cave, where the 
entrance was all wet with the blood. She 
could see nothing beyond, yet knowing 
well that her lover had passed through here, 
she followed as quickly as she could, held 
her way straight on through the darkness, 

(glatie ^e Stance 

until she came out of the cave into a most 
fair meadow. 

Here she found the grass all blood- 
stained, and shuddering followed the track 
across the field, until she perceived close at 
hand a city, quite encompassed with a 
wall. Every house there within, alike hall 
and tower, was made entirely of silver — 
wondrous were all the buildings ! About 
the city were moorlands and forests and 
parks, and on the side where the donjon 
was, flowed a stream large enough for the 
landing of boats ; indeed, more than three 
hundred masts could be seen there. 

The lower part of the gate was un- 
fastened, and the lady entered the city ; 
and still following the blood-tracks, passed 
through the streets to the castle. 

And all the way none spoke to her ; nay, 
she did not even see man or woman in that 

She came at last to the palace, with its 
pavement all blood-stained, and entered a 
fair chamber wherein she found a sleeping 
knight. But she did not know him, so 
passed on into another room still more 
spacious, wherein was only a bed and upon 
it a knight asleep. 


She went her way yet further, and in the 
third chamber found her lover's bed. Its 
feet were made of the finest gold; the 
coverlets I know not how to praise; the 
candlesticks, in which tapers were burning 
night and day, were worth all the gold of 
a city. 

She knew the knight as soon as she had 
beheld him, went forward all in affright 
and fell swooning by his side. He raised 
her up as one who loved her dearly, often 
calling himself wretched ; and when she 
was recovered, comforted her with all 

" Dear love, for God's sake, I pray you, 
go hence; flee from here! As soon as I 
shall die, this very day, here within shall 
be so great mourning, that if you were 
found here, you would be most harshly 
dealt with, for my people will know that 
they have lost me through my love of you. 
It is for your sake that I am anxious and 
distressed ! " 

The lady answered, "Dear, I would 
rather die here with you than suffer torture 
from my husband ; if I return to him he 
will surely kill me!" 

But the knight reassured her by giving 

(gt'atie be Stance 

her a little ring and showing how, as long 
as she should keep this, her husband would 
not remember any thing that had happened, 
nor in any wise deal with her harshly. He 
also put into her charge his sword, adjuring 
her to let no man have it, but to keep it 
well for her son. And when he should be 
grown and tall, and a brave and strong 
knight, she would go with him and her 
husband to a feast, and on the way they 
would come to an abbey, wherein by the 
side of a tomb they would hear told again 
the story of his death, how he was slain 
basely. "Then give him the sword! Tell 
him how he was born and who was his 
father; soon enough they shall see what he 
will make of it!" 

When he had revealed everything to 
her, he gave her a costly robe to put on ; 
then made her hurry away. 

She departed, bearing with her the ring 
and the sword, in which she found com- 
fort. And after she had left the city, she 
had not gone half a league before she heard 
the tolling of bells and in the castle the 
sound of dole for the dying lord. 

And when she knew that he was dead, 
in her grief she swooned as many as four 

times. But at last she was able to hold 
her way to the cave, entered in and passed 
beyond — so returned to her own country. 

She lived with her husband many a day 
and many a year; but he never blamed her 
for this deed, nor spoke ill to her, nor 
mocked at her. 

In due time her son was born and was 
called Yonec. He was tenderly nurtured 
and carefully reared, so that in all the 
realm was no lad so fair, so strong, so 
brave, so generous, so open-handed. When 
he came of age, he was dubbed knight; 
and — hearken now to what befel in this 
very year ! 

After the custom of the country, the old 
lord was summoned with his friends to the 
feast of St. Aaron, which was celebrated 
in Caerleon and many other cities. So he 
went thither with his wife and son in 
splendid array. Although they set out for 
Caerleon, they did not know the way 
thither, so took with them a young lad as 
guide. And presently they came to a 
castled town, the fairest in all that age, in 
which was an abbey for religious men. 
Their guide brought them there for 
harbourage ; and in the abbot's ovi n 

8l F 

(glatie be Stance 

chamber they were well served and held in 

On the morrow they went to hear mass, 
then would have departed ; but the abbot 
went to them and prayed them earnestly to 
tarry, and he would show them his dor- 
mitory, his chapter-house and his refectory. 
Since they had been so well harboured 
there, the lord was not loth to grant this. 

On this same day after dinner, they 
went to the monastic buildings, and first 
of all to the chapter house. Here they 
found a great tomb covered with a spangled 
silk all bordered with costly gold -em- 
broidery. At the head, at the feet, and at 
the sides, were twenty lighted tapers, in 
candlesticks of fine gold. The censers, 
with which for great honour they clouded 
that tomb all day long, were made of 

The strangers asked the folk of the land 
whose this tomb was and what manner of 
man lay there. And they began to weep, 
and said sorrowfully that he was the best 
and strongest knight, the bravest, fairest, 
and best-beloved, that was born in that age. 

" Of this land he was king — and never 
was any so courteous ! At Caeruent he was 

beguiled and slain for love of a lady. Never 
since then have we had a Hege-lord, but 
have been waiting many a day for a son 
who should be born of that lady, as he told 
us, and commanded us to do." 

When the lady heard these words, with 
a loud voice she called her son, saying : 

"Fair son, you have heard how God has 
led us thither ! He who lies there is your 
father, slain treacherously by this old man ! 
Now I yield and deliver to you his sword, 
for long enough have I kept it !" 

In the presence of all she showed whose 
son he was, telling how the knight had 
been wont to come and visit her, and how 
her husband had entrapped him. And 
when she had told the whole story, she 
fell swooning on the grave, and never spoke 
again; and thus passed away. 

When her son saw that she had died, 
with the sword that had been his father's, 
he struck off the old man's head, and so 
avenged both his parents. 

When it was known through the city 
what had befallen, they took the lady 
and placed her with great honour in her 
lover's tomb. May God grant them sweet 

mercy ! 


(Jtlarie be Stance 

Yonec they made their liege-lord before 
they departed from that place. 

Some who heard this adventure told, 
long afterwards made of it a lay, to show 
the pain and the sorrow that these suffered 
for love's sake. 




WILL tell you an ad- 
venture whereof the 
Britons made a lay. This 
is called Laustic^ I under- 
stand, in their country, but 
russignol in French, and 
in plain English, «//?/^^^/^. 
In the country near 
St. Malo was a well-known village, in which 
two knights, whose bounty gave it fair name, 
had their homes and their parks. 

The one was married to a lady who was 
wise, courteous and debonair ; and marvel- 
lously he doted upon her, as often comes to 
pass in such a case. 

The other was a bachelor who was known 
among his fellows for his prowess and his 
great courage. So eagerly did he seek 
honour that he was often at tournaments, 
spent freely, and gave largesse abundantly 
of what he had. 

Now he came to love his neighbour's 
wife, and by dint of his entreaties and 
prayers brought it about that she loved him 
above all things. This was partly for his 
deserts, partly because of the good which 
she heard said of him, and partly because 
he was ever at hand. 


(Tttarie ^e Stance 

They loved each other well, yet wisely, 
so guarding their secret that they were not 
observed, nor discovered, nor even mis- 
trusted. It was easy for them to do this, 
since their dwellings, both halls and donjons, 
stood side by side, with no bar or barrier 
between them save a high wall of grey 

When the lady stood at the window of 
the chamber in which she slept, she could 
speak with her lover, and he from his side 
with her; and they could exchange gifts 
by throwing or by tossing. 

They had nothing at all to grieve them ; 
but were quite happy, except that they 
might not meet as they would, for the lady 
was straitly guarded when her lord was in 
the country. But at least none might 
hinder them from going to the window, 
either by day or by night, and there gazing 
upon each other and talking together. 

A long time they were in love, until at 
length came summer, when wood and 
meadow were green once more, and 
copses were a-flower. The little birds 
right sweetly trilled their joy at the tips of 
the blossoms. 'Tis no marvel that he who 
has love-longing in his heart should give 

heed thereto; and so, I tell you truly, it 
was with this knight and this lady, both in 
words and in glances. 

The nights when the moon shone clear, 
the lady rose from her husband's side, as he 
lay asleep, and wrapping herself in her 
mantle, went to stand at the window, for 
she knew that her lover would be there, 
since like herself he waked most of the 
night for love-longing. It was joy to them 
to see each other, since they might have no 

So often she arose and stood there that 
at last her husband was vexed, and often 
asked her why she arose and whither she 

" My lord," she answered, " there is no 
joy in this world like that of hearing the 
nightingale sing, and this is why I come to 
stand here. So sweetly have I heard him 
trill at night, and such great pleasure has 
his song given me, that I long for it until 
I cannot close an eye in sleep !" 

When her husband heard this, he laughed 
for sheer vexation and ill-humour ; and 
bethought him that he would ensnare the 

Accordingly, there was no lad in his 


a^dxie be Stance 

household who did not make trap or toil 
or net, to place in the copse. In every 
hazel and every chestnut they put net or 
lime, until at length they trapped and 
caught the bird, and brought it alive to 
their lord. 

He, greatly pleased, took it into his wife's 
chamber, calling out: 

" Wife, where are you ? Come here and 
speak to us ! I have limed the nightingale 
for which you have waked so often. Hence- 
forth, you may lie in peace -, he shall trouble 
you no more ! " 

When the lady heard this, she was both 
vexed and sorrowful, and demanded the 
bird of her husband. But he in his passion 
slew it, wringing its neck with his two 
hands — a churlish deed ! — and flung the 
body at his wife, so that the front of her 
smock, a little above the breast, was stained 
with its blood. Thereupon he left the 

The lady with bitter tears took up the 
little body, and cursed all who had devised 
traps and nets to ensnare the nightingale ; 
for they had made an end of her great joy. 

" Alas ! " she said, " woe's me ! Never 
again may I rise at night, and stand at the 

t^e (IJig^tingafe 

window to see my love. I know of a truth 
he will deem me false, and for this must I 
take counsel. I will send him the nightin- 
gale at once, and so tell him the whole 

In a piece of gold-embroidered samite, 
duly inscribed, she wrapped the little bird ; 
and calling one of her pages, charged him 
with the message to her lover. 

He went to the knight, and with greet- 
ings from his lady told all the message; 
and delivered to him the nightingale. 

When the young lord had heard all the 
story, he grieved at the mischance; and 
being neither churlish nor slothful, he had 
a little casket fashioned, not of iron or steel, 
but all of fine gold set with rare and costly 
gems. Then he placed the nightingale 
within, and had a splendid cover sealed 
upon it; and everywhere that he went 
carried the casket about with him. 

Not long did their adventure remain 
unknown ; it was put into story, and the 
Britons made of it a lay which is called 


IS my wish and purpose 
to tell you truly how, 
ft-«-^;^s i^t=;w\ wherefore, and by 
^^^^ K^^ ii whom, the Lay of the 
Honeysuckle was made. 
Many have told it to me 
and I have also found 
it in writing, the story 
of Tristram and of the queen, and of their 
faithful love that brought manifold woes 
upon them, and at length upon the same 
day death itself. 

When King Mark heard that Tristram 
loved the queen, he was bitterly wroth, and 
banished his nephew from the realm. So 
the knight went away to his own land. 
South Wales, where he was born ; and 
tarried there a whole year, knowing no 
way of return. But at last he was so ex- 
ceeding sorrowful and distraught for love, 
that he put himself in peril of death and 
of undoing; hence, departed from his own 
land and went straight into Cornwall, 
where the queen was dwelling. Marvel 
not at this, for he who loves loyally, is 
woful and full of despair when he lacks his 
heart's desire. 

Now Tristram would not that any man 

(J^atie ^e Stance 

see him, so he entered all alone into the 
forest; and came out only at evensong, 
when it was time to take harbourage. He 
lodged at night with poor peasant folk, and 
asked them tidings of the king. From 
them he heard that all the barons had been 
summoned to Tintagel where the king, 
together with the queen, would hold high 
court at Pentecost, in great mirth and 
revelry. Upon these tidings Tristram was 
glad at heart, since the queen could not 
pass by without his seeing her. 

On the day that the king journeyed, 
Tristram returned to the forest, along the 
road by which he knew the queen must 
come. There he cut into a hazel-branch, 
and stripped it four-square, and when 
he had made it ready, with his knife he 
wrote his name. If the queen should 
see it, she would know the mark as her 
lover's; and indeed she would watch well 
for such a thing, since it had happened 
before that she had met him in this way. 

This was the import of the writing that 
he set upon it : that he had been there long, 
waiting to catch a glimpse of her, or to 
know how he might see her, for without 
her he could not live. The twain of them 


t^e goneggucftfe 

were like the hazel with the honeysuckle 
clinging to it; when they are all inter- 
twined and clasped together, they thrive 
well, but if they be parted, the hazel dies 
at once, and likewise the honeysuckle. 

" Sweet love, so is it with us : nor you 
without me, nor I without you!" 

The queen came riding in cavalcade, 
and still kept looking a little in front of 
her, until she saw the hazel, and studying 
it well, knew all the letters. Thereupon 
she bade the knights who were attending 
her to halt, as she would dismount and 
rest awhile. And they did as she com- 

Calling to her the maiden Brenguein, 
who kept good faith with her, she wandered 
far from her folk ; and as she turned aside 
from the road a little, found in the woods 
him whom she loved more than any other 
living thing. 

And gladness dwelt with them while he 
spoke with her at his will, and she showed 
him all her heart, how she had made accord 
with the king, who now repented him of 
banishing his nephew upon an evil charge. 
But at last they must go their ways, 
though they wept sorely at the parting; 
97 G 

(Jttarie b'e Stance 

for Tristram must needs return to Wales 
until his uncle summoned him. 

For the joy that he had in his lady, 
whom he saw by means of the writing on 
the hazel, Tristram, who was skilled in 
harping, made a new lay for the remem- 
brance of her words, just as she had spoken 
them. This is called Gotelef in English, 
and Ch'ievrefoil in French. It is truth that 
I have told you in this lay. 




WILL tell you the story 
of a most ancient Breton 
lay, even as 1 have heard 
it, and as I believe it to 
be true. 

There dwelt in Brit- 
tany a knight called 
Eliduc, who was noble 
and courteous, brave and high-hearted — 
indeed, the most valiant man in the realm. 
He had married a lady of high lineage, a 
gentle dame, and of good discretion ; and 
with her he lived a long time in faithful 
love. But at last it happened that he 
sought service in a war abroad, and there 
came to love a damsel called Guilliadun, 
daughter to a king and queen, and withal 
the fairest maid in her land. NowEliduc's 
wife was called Guildeluec ; and from these 
two, the lay is named Guildeluec and 
Guilliadun. It hight Eliduc at first, but the 
name has been changed because the story 
has to do chiefly with the two ladies. And 
now I will tell you truly how the adven- 
ture befell, whereof the lay was made. 

Eliduc was very dear to his lord, the 
King of Lesser Britain, and rendered unto 
him such faithful service that whenever 


(Starie ^e Stance 

the king must needs be absent, he for his 
prowess was made warden of the land. 
And still better fortune befell him, for he 
had the right to hunt in the royal forests, 
so that no forester dared gainsay him or 
grudge him at any time. But for envy 
of his good fortune — as befalls others often- 
times — he was brought into disfavour with 
his lord, being so accused and slandered 
that he was banished from court without a 
hearing, yet knew not wherefore. Again 
and again he entreated the king to show 
him justice, and not hearken to false 
charges, inasmuch as he had served him 
with good will. 

Since the king would hear nothing of it, 
he must needs depart, so went home, and 
summoning all his friends, told them of 
the king's anger — 'twas an ill return for 
his faithful service ! As the peasant says in 
proverb, when he chides his ploughman, 
"Lord's favour is no fief'j so he is wise 
and prudent who, with all due loyalty to 
his lord, expends his love upon his good 
neighbours. The knight said further that 
he would not remain in the land, but would 
journey over sea to the realm of Loengre, 
and there take his pleasure for awhile. 



His wife he would leave in his domain, 
commending her to the charge of his 
vassals and his friends. In this purpose he 
remained, and arrayed himself richly, his 
friends grieving sorely at his departure. 
He took ten knights with him, and his 
wife conducted him on the way. When 
it came to the parting she made exceeding 
great lamentation ; but he assured her that 
he would keep good faith with her. There- 
upon he set forth, held straight on his way 
until he came to the sea, crossed over and 
arrived at Totnes. 

There were many kings in that land, 
and they were at strife and war with one 
another. Among them was one who lived 
near Exeter, a puissant man but of very great 
age. He had no son to inherit after him, but 
only a daughter of an age to wed ; and be- 
cause he would not give her in marriage to 
his neighbour, this other was making war 
upon him, and laying waste all his land, had 
even besieged him in a castle so closely that 
he had no man who dared make sally against 
the foe, or engage in melee or combat. 

Upon hearing of this war, Eliduc decided 
to go no further, but to remain in the 
land, and aid as most he might this king 

(glarte ^e Stance 

who was so wronged and humiliated and 
hard-pressed. So he sent messengers with 
letters to say that he had departed from his 
own country and was come to help the 
king; but if the king did not wish to 
retain him, the knight asked for safe- 
conduct through the realm, that he might 
go further to seek service. 

The king looked kindly upon the mes- 
sengers, and entertained them well. Calling 
his constable, he gave commands straight- 
way that an escort be prepared to conduct 
the knight thither; and that hostels be 
made ready where the strangers might 
lodge; and he further set at their disposal 
as much as they would spend for a month. 

The escort was arrayed and sent for 
Eliduc, and he was received with great 
honour, for he was passing welcome to the 
king. He was lodged with a kind and 
worthy burgess, who gave up to him his 
fair tapestried chamber. Here Eliduc had 
a splendid feast served, and invited the 
needy knights who sojourned in the city. 
Furthermore, he admonished all his men 
that none be so forward as to take gift or 
denier for the first forty days. 

On the third day after his arrival, there 


arose cries in the city that the foe were 
come and spread throughout the land, and 
would advance to the very gates and assail 
the town. 

Eliduc hearing the clamour of the 
frightened folk, armed himself at once, 
and bade his comrades do likewise. There 
were forty mounted knights dwelling in 
that town (though some were wounded 
and many had been captured) ; and when 
they saw Eliduc mounting his horse, all 
who were able came out of their hostels 
armed, and went forth from the gate with 
him, waiting for no summons. 

"Sir," they said, "we will go with you, 
and do as you shall do." 

He made answer: "Gramercy ! Is there 
none among you here who knows a narrow 
pass meet for an ambush, where we may 
take them unawares? True, if we await 
them here, we shall probably fight, but 
to no advantage, if any knows better 

And they said: "Sir, i' faith, in the 
thicket hard by yonder wood is a narrow 
road, by which they usually return when 
they have been plundering, riding unarmed 
on their palfreys. Again and again they 

(gtatie be Stance 

repair thither, thus putting themselves in 
jeopardy of speedy death, so that they 
might easily be overcome and put to shame 
and worsted." 

Eliduc answered : "Friends, I give you 
my word that he who does not venture 
often where he expects to lose shall never 
win much, nor attain to great renown. Now 
ye are all the king's men, and should keep 
good faith with him. Come with me 
where I shall go, and do as I shall do ; and 
I promise you faithfully that ye shall come 
to no harm as long as I can aid you. If 
we gain anything, it will be to our glory 
to have weakened our foes." 

They took his pledge, and guided him 
to the forest, where they placed themselves 
in ambush along the road until the enemy 
should return. Eliduc commanded in all 
things, devising and explaining how they 
should leap out suddenly with loud cries. 

As soon as the enemy had come to the 
narrow pass . . . Eliduc shouted to his 
comrades to do worthily. And they gave 
hard blows, sparing not at all, so that the 
foe, taken by surprise, were quickly con- 
fused and scattered, and in a little while 
vanquished. Their constable was captured 



and so many other knights that the squires 
had much ado to take charge of them, 
Five-and-twenty were the men of this 
land, and they took prisoner thirty of those 
from abroad, and as much armour as they 
would. 'Twas a marvellous booty; and the 
knights returned home rejoicing in their 

The king, meanwhile, was on a tower, in 
great fear for his men, and complaining 
bitterly of Eliduc, for he supposed, or at 
least dreaded, that through treason he might 
have led the knights of that city into 
danger. And when these came back all 
in array, and all encumbered with booty 
and prisoners, so that they were many 
more at their home-coming than when 
they went forth, the king did not know 
them, and so was in doubt and suspense. 
He gave commands that the gates be 
closed, and that soldiers be stationed on the 
walls to shoot, and to hurl darts at them. 
But all this was needless, for they sent a 
squire spurring in advance, to tell of the 
stranger's achievement, how he had van- 
quished the foe, and how nobly he had 
borne himself — there never was such a 
knight ! — and how the constable had been 

(gtatie be Stance 

captured, and nine-and-twenty others, be- 
sides many wounded and many slain. 

The king rejoiced marvellously at these 
tidings, and descended from the tower to 
meet Eliduc, and to thank him for his 
good service. He in turn delivered up his 
prisoners; and divided the booty among 
the other knights. For his own use he kept 
only three horses that he liked especially. 
All his share he distributed and gave out 
among the prisoners as well as among the 
other folk. 

After this feat of which I have told you, 
the king greatly loved and cherished him, 
and for a whole year retained him in his 
service, and likewise his comrades. More- 
over, after taking his oath, he made him 
warden of the land. 

Now Eliduc was courteous and discreet, 
a goodly knight, and strong and open- 
handed; hence, the king's daughter heard 
him talked of and his virtues recounted. 
Accordingly, by one of her trusty chamber- 
lains she prayed and commanded him to visit 
her, that they might have friendly speech 
together, and become acquainted — indeed, 
she marvelled greatly that he had not come 
to her before ! 


Eliduc answered that he would most 
gladly go to make her acquaintance. 
Attended by a single knight, he mounted 
his horse and rode to her bower, where he 
sent the chamberlain before, and followed 
when his coming had been announced. 

With sweet courtesy, with gentle manner 
and with noble bearing, he spoke as one 
skilled in speech, and thanked the fair lady 
Guilliadun, in that she had been pleased 
to summon him to her presence. 

She took him by the hand, and they sat 
down together upon a couch, speaking of 
many things. She looked at him attentively, 
studying his face, his stature and his bearing, 
and said to herself, " There is no fault in 
him." And all at once, as she was praising 
him in her heart. Love flung his dart at her, 
bidding her love the knight, whereupon she 
grew pale and sighed. But she would not 
put her thought into speech, lest he hold 
her too lightly. 

He tarried there a long while, but at last 
took leave — though she granted it unwil- 
lingly — and returned to his hostel. He was 
right pensive and sadly distraught for think- 
ing of the fair princess, how she had so 
sweetly called him, and how she had sighed. 

(^latie be Stance 

His only regret was that he had been in the 
land so long, and had not seen her often. 
But even as he said this he repented, mind- 
ing him of his wife, and how he had pro- 
mised to keep good faith with her. 

On the other hand, the maid, as soon as 
she beheld him, loved him more than any 
other in the world, and wished to have him 
for her lover. All the night she lay awake, 
and had neither sleep nor rest. On the 
morrow morning she arose, and going to a 
window, called thither her chamberlain and 
showed him all her state, saying: 

" By my faith, 'tis ill with me ! I am 
fallen into evil case ! I love the stranger- 
knight, Eliduc, so that I have no rest at 
night, nor can I close my eyes in sleep. If 
he would return my love and be my be- 
trothed, I would do all his will, and he 
indeed might win great good therefrom, 
for he should be king of this land ! But if 
he will not love me, I must die of grief 
for very love of his wisdom and his cour- 

When she had said what she would, the 
chamberlain whom she had called, gave her 
excellent counsel — let no man think ill 
of it! 


" Lady," he said, " since you love him, 
send to him and tell him so. It were well, 
perhaps, to send him a girdle or riband or 
ring, and if he should accept it gratefully 
and be joyous at the message, you would 
be sure of his love. There is no emperor 
under heaven who, if you would love him, 
ought not to be right glad !" 

And when the damsel had heard this 
counsel, she answered : 

" How shall 1 know by my gift whether 
he will love me ? Never have I seen knight 
— whether he loved or hated — who had to 
be entreated to keep willingly the present 
one sent him. I should hate bitterly to be 
a jest to him ! Still, one may know some- 
what by his manner — make ready, and 

" I am all ready," he said. 

" Give him a golden ring, and my girdle. 
Greet him from me a thousand times ! " 

The chamberlain turned away, leaving 
her in such state that she all but called him 
back ; but yet she let him go, and began 
to lament in this wise : 

"Alas! now is my heart captive for a 
stranger from another land ! I know not 
if he is of high degree, yet if be should go 

(Wlatie ^e Stance 

hence suddenly, I should be left mourning. 
Foolishly have I set my heart's desire, for I 
never spoke with him save yesterday ; and 
now I have sent to entreat his love. I 
think that he will blame me — yet if he is 
gentle, he will show me grace ! Now is 
everything at hazard, and if he cares not 
for my love, I shall be in such sorrow 
that never again in my life shall I have 


While she was thus bemoaning herself, 
the chamberlain hastened and came to 
Eliduc. As had been devised, he greeted 
the knight according to the maiden's bid- 
ding, and gave him the little ring and the 
girdle. Eliduc thanked him, put the gold 
ring on his finger, and girt himself with 
the girdle. But there was no further 
speech between them, save that the knight 
proffered gifts, of which the chamberlain 
would have none. 

Returning to his lady, whom he found in 
her bower, he greeted her on the knight's 
part and thanked her for her present. 

" Come," she said, " hide nothing from 
me. Will he love me with true love ? " 

"As I think," he answered. "The 
knight is not wanton, but I hold him 


rather as courteous and discreet in knowing 
how to hide his heart. I greeted him from 
you and gave him your gifts, whereupon 
he girt him himself with your girdle, draw- 
ing it close about him, and put the little 
ring on his finger. Nor said I more to 
him, nor he to me." 

"Did he not receive it in token of love? 
If not, I am undone ! " 

He answered: "By my faith, I know 
not; yet, hearken to me, unless he wished 
you well, he would have none of your 

" You speak folly ! " said she. " I know 
well that he does not hate me, for I have 
never wronged him in aught, save in loving 
him tenderly; and if for that he hates me, 
he deserves to die ! Never by you, or by 
any other, will I ask anything of him until 
I myself speak to him and show how love 
for him sways me. But I know not 
whether he remains? " 

The chamberlain answered : " Lady, the 
king has retained him under oath to serve 
faithfully for a year ; hence, you may have 
time enough to show him your pleasure." 

When she heard that he would remain, 
she was exceeding joyful and glad at heart. 

113 H 

(gtarie be Stance 

She knew nothing of the sorrow that came 
upon him as soon as he had beheld her, for 
his only joy was in thinking of her, and 
he held himself in evil case since he had 
promised his wife, before he left his domain, 
to love none but herself. Now is his heart 
in sore conflict, for he would fain keep his 
faith, yet in no wise may he doubt that he 
loves the maiden Guilliadun, so sweet to 
gaze upon and to speak with, to kiss and 
to embrace. But he would not seek her love, 
since it would be dishonourable to his wife, 
and to the king as well. 

For all this, he was so tormented for 
love that he mounted his horse presently, 
and rode away with his companions to the 
castle. But the reason of his going was 
not so much to speak with the king as to 
see the maiden, if he might. 

Now the king was risen from dinner and 
entered into his daughter's bower, where 
he was playing chess with a knight from 
oversea ; and from across the chess-board 
the princess was watching the game. 

As Eliduc came forward, the king showed 

him great favour, and bade him sit by his 

side; then, turning to his daughter, he 

said : " Damsel, acquaint you with this 



knight, and show him all honour 5 for there 
is none more worthy among five hundred ! " 

Upon her father's command, the maiden 
turned joyfully to greet Eliduc; and they 
sat afar off from the others. Love so over- 
came them that she dared say no word to 
him and he could scarce speak to her. Yet 
he thanked her for her gift, which was to 
him the dearest thing he had. Thereupon 
she said that she was glad at heart : she 
had sent him the ring and the girdle because 
she loved him so well that she would wil- 
lingly take him for her husband ; and if 
this might not be, of a truth, never would 
she have living man ! But now, let him 
show his heart ! 

" Lady," he said, " I thank you for the 
grace of your love, which fills me with joy ! 
That I stand so high in your favour, makes 
me glad beyond the telling, yet the future 
rests not with me, for, although I am bound 
to remain a year with the king, having 
given my oath not to depart until his v/ar 
is ended, after that, I ought to return to 
my own land without delay, if you will 
grant me leave." 

The maiden answered : " My friend, 
o;ramercy! So very wise are you and 

(gtatie be Stance 

courteous, that ere that time you will have 
devised what you will do with me. I love 
and trust you above everything! " 

Thus they accorded well, and at that 
time spake no more. Eliduc returned to 
his dwelling full of joy; for he had dealt 
honourably and yet might speak with his 
lady as often as he would, and between 
them was the fulness of love's joy. 

Accordingly, he entered into the war 
with such zeal that he seized and took 
captive the lord who fought against the 
king, and set free all the land. For his 
prowess, for his wit and for his largesse, he 
was praised far and wide, and fair fortune 
befell him. 

Now while these things were happening, 
his own lord had sent three messengers 
forth from the land to seek him ; for he 
was harassed in war, endangered and hard 
bestead, so that he was losing all his castles, 
and all his land was being wasted. Often 
had he repented of banishing Eliduc, 
through foolish hearkening to evil counsel ; 
and the traitors who had accused and slan- 
dered and wronged the knight, he had cast 
out of the land, and into exile sent for 
fever. And now in his sore distress he sent 


for his vassal, commanding and adjuring 
him by the bond of homage between them, 
to come to his lord's aid in this time of 
sore need. 

At these tidings Eliduc was sorrowful 
for the maiden whom he loved passing 
well, and who loved him with all her 
heart. His hope and intent was that their 
love might continue to show itself in the 
giving of fair gifts and in speaking together, 
without foolish trifling or dalliance; but 
she thought to have him for her lord, if she 
might keep his love, for she knew not that 
he had wife. 

"Alas!" he cried, "that ever I came 
here ; too long have I been in this land ! 
Would I had never seen it ! I have come 
to love the princess Guilliadun so dearly, 
and she loves me so well, that if we must 
part, one of us will die, or perhaps both ! 
And yet I must go, for my lord has sum- 
moned me by letter, and I am bound to 
him by oath ; and then again — my wife ! 
Now it behoves me to take heed, for 1 
must depart without fail, and if I were to 
wed my love, the Church would interfere. 
Everything goes ill with me ! God — 
how hard is this parting! But whoever 

(glatfie be Stance 

deem it wrong, I will always deal rightly 
with her, doing her will and following her 
counsel. The king, her father, has peace 
now, and looks for no further war; hence, 
for my lord's need I must ask leave before 
the end of my time for abiding in this land. 
I will go speak to the maid, and show her 
all my case ; and when she has told me her 
will, I will do it as far as I may." 

He tarried no longer, but went at once 
to the king to ask leave, relating to him 
what had happened and reading the letter 
from his lord, who was so hard-pressed. 
And when the king heard that Eliduc 
might in no wise remain, he became sor- 
rowful and troubled in thought, and offered 
largely of his possessions, one-third of his 
heritage and of his treasure ; if only Eliduc 
would remain, he would give him cause to 
be grateful all his life. 

" Pardieu^'' said Eliduc, " since my lord 
is now so oppressed, and has summoned 
me from afar, I must go hence for his 
occasions, nor in any wise remain. But if 
you have need of my service, I will return 
to you gladly with a strong force of 

For this the king thanked him, and with 


all courtesy gave him leave to depart, 
setting at his disposal all the treasures of 
his mansion, gold and silver, dogs and 
horses, rich and beautiful silk. Of these 
took he measurably. Thereupon he added 
to the king, as v^as fitting, that he would 
like to say farewell to his daughter, if it 
pleased him. The king answered, "With 
all my heart," and sent forward a page to 
open the chamber door. 

Eliduc went with him, and when the 
lady saw the knight, she called him by 
name, and said he was six thousand times 
welcome. He asked her counsel in this 
matter, briefly showing the need for his 
journey ; but ere he had told her all, or 
taken leave, or even asked it, she turned 
pale and swooned for grief. Seeing this, 
Eliduc began to lament, and kissed her 
often, weeping sorely, and held her in his 
arms until she had recovered from her 

" P^r^/V«," he said, " my sweet love, try 
to bear what I tell you. You are my life 
and my death, and in you is all my comfort ! 
And though I must needs return to my 
land, and have already taken leave of your 
father, I counsel that there be troth-plight 

(glarie be Stance 

between us, and, whatsoever befall me, I 
will do your will ! " 

"Take me with you," she cried, "since 
you will not stay longer! Or if you 
will not, I must kill myself, for never more 
shall I have joy or content! " 

Eliduc answered tenderly that indeed he 
loved her with true love: "Sweet, I am 
bound to your father by oath, from now 
until the term which was set, and if I took 
you with me, I should belie my faith to 
him. I promise you faithfully and swear 
that if you will grant me leave and respite 
now, and set a day afterwards, and if you 
wish me to return, nothing in the world 
shall hinder me, if I be aUve and well. 
My life is all in your hands ! " 

When she perceived his great love, she 
granted him a term, and set a day when he 
should come and take her with him. In 
bitter grief they exchanged gold rings, and 
with sweet kisses parted. Eliduc went 
down to the sea, and with a good wind 
was quickly across. 

Upon his return his lord rejoiced greatly, 
and likewise his friends and his kinsmen 
and many other folk; and above all his 
good wife, who was so fair and wise and 



gentle. But he was always thinking upon 
the love that overmastered him ; and showed 
no joy or pleasure at all — indeed, he might 
never be glad again until he saw his beloved. 

He kept his secret well ; and yet his wife 
grieved in heart, and often mourned by 
herself, for she knew not what this might 
be. Again and again she asked him if he 
had not heard from some one that she had 
been false to him or had sinned against 
him while he was out of the land. She 
would most gladly prove her innocence 
before his folk, whenever he pleased. 

" Wife," he said, " I charge you with 
no sin or misdeed whatsoever. But in the 
land where I have been, I promised and 
swore to the king that I would return to 
him, for he has great need of me. If my 
lord had peace, I would not stay here eight 
days longer. I must endure great anxiety 
before I may return, yea, never until that 
time shall I take pleasure in anything that 
I see ; for I would not break my pledge." 

With this the lady let be. He went to 
his lord and so much aided and supported 
him that by his counsel the king saved all 
the land. 

But when the time appointed by the 


(glarie be Stance 

maiden drew near, he made ready for his 
departure; and having brought the enemy 
to terms, he arrayed himself for the journey, 
and likewise those he would take with him. 
These were only his two nephews whom 
he loved especially, the trusty chamberlain 
who had brought the message, and his 
squires; he had no desire for other com- 
rades. These few he made promise and 
swear to keep silence on this undertaking. 

He put out to sea at once, and was 
quickly across in the land where he was so 
eagerly expected. 

Now, for prudence sake, Eliduc took 
lodging far from the harbour that he might 
not be seen or recognized, and arrayed his 
chamberlain to bear word to the princess, 
that he had kept her command, and was 
now arrived ; and when the darkness of 
evening had fallen, she should come forth 
from the city with the chamberlain, and he 
himself would meet her. 

The chamberlain changed his dress for 
disguise and went on foot all the way to 
the city where the king's daughter was. 
He devised a means to be admitted to her 
bower, and greeting the maiden, said that 
her lover was come. Upon hearing these 



tidings she was all startled and confused, wept 
tenderly for joy, and often kissed the mes- 
senger. He said further that at eventide 
she must go with him, for all the day 
he had been planning their flight. In 
the darkness of evening they set out from 
the city, the chamberlain and herself — 
no more than they two. She had great 
fear of being seen, for she was clad in a 
silken robe, delicately embroidered with 
gold, and had wrapped about her only a 
short mantle. 

But her lover had come to meet her, and 
was awaiting them a bow-shot's length 
from the gate, by the hedge that enclosed 
a fair wooded park. When the chamberlain 
brought her up, he dismounted to kiss her; 
and they had exceeding great joy together. 
Soon, however, he placed her on a horse, 
mounted, took the reins, and rode away at 
full speed. When they arrived at Totnes 
harbour, they embarked at once, he and 
his own men only, and the lady Guilliadun. 

At first they had a favouring breeze to 
waft them across, and calm weather ; but 
even as they were nearing the shore, there 
came a storm at sea, and a wind arose 
before them, which drove them far from 

(VXaxie be Stance 

their haven, broke and split their mast and 
tore all their sail. Devoutly they called on 
God, on St. Nicholas and St. Clement, and 
Our Lady, the Virgin Mary, that she 
entreat her Son to save them from death, 
and bring them safe to land. One hour 
backwards, another forwards — thus they 
coasted along, for they were in the heart of 
the tempest. And presently one of the 
sailors cried aloud : 

" What shall we do ? Lord, you have 
here with you the one for whose sake we 
perish ! We shall never come to land, for 
you have lawful wedded wife, and yet bear 
away this other, against God and the law, 
against right and honour! Let us cast her 
into the sea, and we may arrive at once ! " 

At these words Eliduc in his wrath all 
but hurt the fellow. " Thou dastard ! " he 
cried, "wretch! foul traitor! be still! If 
I could leave my lady, you should pay 
dearly for this ! " 

He held the princess in his arms, sooth- 
ing her as best he could both for her terror 
of the sea and for her woe in hearing that 
her lover had wife in his own land. But 
she fell forward in a swoon, and continued 
in that state, all pale and colourless, neither 


reviving nor breathing. He thought of a 
truth that she was dead, and fell into bitter 
grief. He arose and went to the sailor 
who had spoken, struck him with a gaft 
and stretched him prone, then hurled him 
overboard, head foremost into the sea, 
where the waves swept the body away. 
Thereupon the knight took the helm, and 
so steered the ship and held it firm, that he 
made the haven and came to land ; and 
when they were arrived safely, he cast 
anchor and put down the gangway. 

And still the maid lay with the look of 
death upon her, so that Eliduc in his heavy 
grief longed to lie dead by her side. 

But he asked counsel of his comrades as 
to whither he should take her, for he would 
not part from her until she should be buried 
with great honour and fair service, as be- 
came a king's daughter, in holy ground. 
His men were all perplexed and had nothing 
to say, so the knight bethought him what 
he should do. He remembered that near 
his dwelling, itself so close to the sea that 
it could be reached by mid-day, in the great 
forest which stretched round about it for 
thirty leagues, a holy hermit had had a cell 
and chapel for forty years. Now since he 

(^atte ^e Stance 

knew this good man, he resolved to take 
the maid thither and bury her in his chapel ; 
and to give enough land to found an abbey, 
and to place therein a convent of monks or 
nuns or canons, who should pray for her 
unceasingly, " God grant her sweet mercy ! " 

So he had his horses brought, mounted 
with his men, and taking oath of them not 
to betray him, rode away on his palfrey 
with his lady in his arms. They journeyed 
straight on, until they came to the chapel 
in the wood, where they knocked and 
called, but found no one to answer, or to 
open to them, so that Eliduc must needs 
make one of his men climb over the wall to 
unbar and open the door. Within they found 
the new-made tomb of the holy man, who 
had died eight days before. At this the 
knight was sorely troubled and distressed ; 
and when his men would have made the 
lady's grave, he put them back, saying : 

"This must not be until I have taken 
counsel with the wise folk of the land, as 
to how I shall sanctify the place for abbey 
or for monastery. Let us lay her before 
the altar here, and commend her to God." 

He bade them forthwith bring robes and 
prepare a couch, on which he placed the 


maiden whom he thought dead. But when 
he came to the parting, he thought to die 
of grief. He kissed her eyes and her face, 
saying : 

" Dear, please God, never more will I 
bear arms or live out my life in the world ! 
Fair love — alas, that you ever saw me ; 
sweet dear — alas, that you came with me ! 
Pretty one, now had you been queen per- 
haps, were it not for the true love and 
loyal, with which you loved me. My heart 
aches sorely for you ! On the day that I 
bury you I shall put on the cowl ; and at 
your tomb day after day cry out anew my 

At last he left the maiden, and made fast 
the door of the chapel ; and then he sent 
a messenger to his dwelling to announce 
to his wife that he was on his way home, 
but was weary and travel-worn. 

Upon hearing these tidings she rejoiced 
greatly, and, arraying herself to meet her 
lord, received him in all kindness ; yet she 
got but little joy of him, for his looks were 
so forbidding that none dared accost him, 
and he spoke no loving word. 

He was two days in the house ; and 
after mass in the morning went forth alone 

on the road to the forest chapel, where the 
damsel lay. He found her neither revived 
nor seeming to breathe, yet he marvelled 
in seeing her still white and red, with no 
loss of her fair colour, save that she was a 
little pale. In his bitter anguish he wept 
and prayed for her soul ; and having prayed, 
returned home. 

One day, when he went forth from the 
church, his wife set a squire to watch him, 
promising to give horse and arms if he 
would follow his lord and see where he 
went. And as she bade him, he followed 
unperceived through the wood, saw Eliduc 
enter the chapel and heard his mourning. 
When the knight came out again, the 
squire returned to his lady, and told her of 
all the cries of grief and lamentation that 
her lord had made in the hermitage. All 
her heart was stirred, and she said : 

" Let us go at once and search through 
the hermitage. My lord must go, I think, 
to the king's court. This hermit has been 
some time dead, and though I know well 
that my husband loved him, he never would 
do thus for his sake, nor feel such lasting 

For the time she let be ; but that same 


day, after noon, when Eliduc went to the 
king's court, she came with her squire to 
the hermitage. When she entered the 
chapel, and saw the bed with the maiden, 
who was Hke a fresh-blown rose, she put aside 
the robes and gazed upon the slender body, 
the long arms, and white hands with graceful 
fingers slim and shapely, and then she 
knew verily why her lord was in such 
grief. Calling the squire, she showed him 
the marvel. 

" See," she said, " this woman, like a 
jewel in her fairness ! She is my lord's 
friend, for whom he is all sorrowful. P 
faith, I wonder not, since so lovely a 
woman is dead ! As much for pity as for 
love, I shall never again have joy ! " 

She began to weep and make moan for 
the maiden. As she sat lamenting by the 
bedside, a weasel ran from under the altar, 
and because it passed over the corse, the 
squire struck it with his staff and killed it. 
He threw it upon the floor, but it lay there 
only while one might run a league, before 
its mate sped thither and saw it. And 
when, after running about the dead weasel's 
head, and lifting it with its foot, the little 
creature could not get its mate to rise, it 
129 I 

(Jtllarie be Stance 

gave signs of grief, and sped out of the 
chapel among the herbs in the wood. Here 
it seized in its teeth a flower crimson of 
hue, and returned at once to place it in the 
mouth of its mate. Within the hour the 
weasel came to life. When the lady saw 
this, she cried to the squire, 

" Stop it ! strike it, good lad ! Let it 
not escape ! " 

He threw his staff so that the weasel 
dropped the flower ; whereupon the lady 
rose and picking up the pretty blossom, 
placed it in the maiden's mouth. And 
presently, as she waited there, the damsel 
revived and breathed, saying as she opened 
her eyes, "Dear God, I have slept long! " 

The lady gave thanks to God, and asked 
the maid who she was, and she answered : 

" Lady, I am of Logres, daughter to a 
king in that land. I loved dearly a good 
knight, Eliduc, and he brought me away 
with him j but he did wrong in beguiling 
me, for he has a wedded wife, and neither 
told me of her, nor ever made sign of such 
a thing. And when I heard speak of this 
wife, I swooned in my grief; and he, most 
unknightly, has abandoned me all desolate 
in a strange land. He has betrayed me, 


though I know not why. Foolish is she 
who puts her trust in man ! " 

"Fair maid," answered the other, "there 
is no living thing in all the world that can 
give him joy! One may say truly that 
since he believes you dead, he has fallen 
into strange despair ; every day he has 
come to look upon you, though deeming 
to find you lifeless. I am his wife, and 
indeed my heart is heavy for him. Be- 
cause he showed such great grief, I longed 
to know whither he went, came after him, 
and found you. I have great joy in find- 
ing you alive ; and will take you back with 
me and restore you to your friend. As for 
myself, I will release him from his vows, 
and veil my head ! " 

Thus the lady comforted her and took 
her away, at the same time sending a squire 
to go for his lord. He journeyed until he 
came to him, and greeting him courteously, 
told him what had befallen. Thereupon 
Eliduc waited for no companion, but 
mounted at once, and rode home that self- 
same night. When he found his lady alive 
he rendered thanks sweetly to his wife, and 
was more glad than he had ever been before. 
Again and again he kissed the maiden and 

(glatie be Stcinee 

she him most tenderly, and they had passing 
great joy together. 

When his wife saw their happiness, she 
accosted her lord and asked his leave to 
depart and be a nun in God's service; 
further, she asked him to give her part of 
his land whereon she might build an abbey, 
and said that he should marry the one 
whom he loved so much, since it was 
neither well nor fitting to maintain two 
wives, nor would the law permit it. 

Eliduc granted this, and parted from her 
in all kindness, saying that he would do all 
her will, and would give her of his land. 
Thus near the castle in a boskage hard by 
the chapel and the hermitage, she built her 
church and monastic dwellings, and added 
thereto land enough and rich possessions, 
so that she might be well content to live 
there. When it was all finished, she veiled 
her head, and took with her thirty nuns to 
establish the new order of her life. 

Eliduc wedded his lady; and on that day 
held feast with great honour and splendid 
service. They lived together many a year 
in perfect love, giving alms largely and 
doing much good, until at length they 
turned them to God wholly. 


Thereupon, with good counsel and care, 
Eliduc built a church also near the castle 
but on the other side, and bestowed upon 
it the greater part of his land, and all his 
gold and silver. He placed there men or 
good religion to establish the order of the 
house; and when all things were ready, 
after no long delay, he gave himself also to 
the service of God Omnipotent. He placed 
his beloved lady with his former wife, by 
whom she was received honourably as a 
sister, was admonished to serve God, and 
instructed in the rules of the order. To- 
gether they prayed God to show sweet 
mercy to their friend ; and he prayed for 
them, sending messengers to know how it 
was with them and how each did. Much 
they strove, each singly, to love God with 
good faith, and so made a fair ending, by 
the grace of the True and Holy God. 

The chivalrous Britons of olden time 
made a lay of the adventure of these three, 
that it might not be forgotten. 



WILL tell my name that 
I may be remembered : 
I am called Marie, and 
I am of France." This 
is one of the few defi- 
nite statements that the 
most famous writer of 
mediaeval lays makes 
about herself. She says further: that she 
has collected and translated her Lays in 
honour of an unnamed " noble king," to 
whom she intends to present them ; that 
she has translated her Fables^ "which folk 
call Esope," from English, for love of a 
certain " Count William," and that she 
has turned her Purgatory of Saint Patrick 
into " Romanz," " for the convenience of 
lay folk." 

Our knowledge of her is somewhat 
extended by two early allusions. Denis 
Pyramus, a contemporary, in his Vie de 
Saint Edmond^ mentions her immediately 
after the author of Partonope^ and in much 
the same terms. He says : 

"And also Dame Marie, who turned 

into rhyme and made verses of lays which 

are not in the least true. For these she is 

much praised, and her rhyme is loved every- 



where ; for counts, barons, and knights 
greatly admire it, and hold it dear. And 
they love her writing so much, and take 
such pleasure in it, that they have it read 
and often copied. These lays are wont to 
please ladies, who listen to them with de- 
light, for they are after their own hearts." 

This passage gives a clear impression of 
Marie's popularity — an impression height- 
ened perhaps by her naive allusion to her 
own fame and to the jealousy that it 
caused [Guigemar, p. 7), and by her re- 
ference, in the Epilogue to the Fables, to 
" these many clerks " {i.e., scribes), who 
would like to take to themselves the credit 
of her work. 

The second allusion is in the Couronne- 
mens Renart, written after the middle of 
the thirteenth century. The author states 
that he is writing in honour of " Count 
William, who was formerly Count of 
Flanders," and has begun his prologue 
" like Marie, who for him treated of 
Izopet." This passage, with its apparent 
identification of Marie's " Count William " 
with a Count of Flanders, who from other 
evidence was Guillaume de Dampierre, 
(died 1 251), misled critics at first as to 



Marie's date and country ; but as the in- 
ternal evidence in her works speaks decisively 
for the twelfth century and against Flanders 
as her home, the only possible conclusion 
from the passage is that the author was 
wrong. It may have been a mere accidental 
blunder on his part ; but there are several 
facts which point towards deliberate falsifi- 
cation. His book was really intended for 
the younger brother of Guillaume de Dam- 
pierre, the Marquis de Namur, whom he 
wished to instruct in worldly wisdom, and 
it is followed in the manuscript by Marie's 
Fables [Izopet). His statement that he is 
imitating Marie is fully borne out by the 
text. In identifying the two counts as one, 
he seems to try to follow her Anglo-Norman 
spelling of the name, having TFilliauTne 
where she has Willalme -, but in his con- 
clusion he has the ordinary French form 
Guillaume. Again, his phrasing is reminis- 
cent of hers : her patron is " flurs — de 
chevalerie, d'enseignement, de curteisie," 
while the author of Couronnemens Renart 
speaks of " la noble chevalerie " of his, 
calls him " si senes, si larges, si preus, si 
cortois " ; and where Marie's is " le plus 
vaillant de cest reialme," his is also " preu 


vaillant." When it is remembered that the 
poet would doubtless win favour from his 
patron by ascribing to the latter's brother 
the credit of having inspired so popular a 
work as the Fables^ he can scarcely be 
acquitted of either falsifying the facts or of 
turning his uncertainty to meet his own ends. 
While there is a consensus of opinion 
among critics to-day that Marie belongs to 
the second half of the twelfth century, there 
is some difference of opinion as to the order 
and more exact placing of her separate 
works. Dr. Warnke, who edited the Fables 
in 1898, and has just brought out a second 
edition of the Lays (1901), suggests the 
following order: (i) the Lays^ 11 60-70 ; 
(2) the Fables y 1 170-80 ; (3) the Purgatory^ 
after 1 190. It is impossible here to give the 
various reasons for this order ; but it may 
be observed that Pyramus mentions only 
the Lays^ while, if we may jvidge from the 
number of manuscripts, the Fables came to 
be even more popular, and again that Marie's 
Prologue to the Lays seems to imply that 
this is her first work. If the identification 
of Count William with William Longespde 
(see p. 143) be correct, the Fables were cer- 
tainly finished after 1 1 7 o, because at that time 


he could not have won the position which 
Marie ascribes to him. And the Purgatory 
was probably written after 1190, since the 
Latin from which it was translated seems to 
have been written between 1 185 and 1 189.* 
As to Marie's original home, it was 
either Normandy or that part of the Isle de 
France which borders upon Normandy. 
Certain it is, as Professor Suchier suggests, 
that she shows a closer acquaintance with 
the little village of Pitres by Pont de I'Arche, 
near Rouen, than with any other place 
mentioned in the Lays. While as a rule 
she is content to name her scene, with 
very little or no description, in The Two 
Lovers^ she devotes thirteen lines to a 
sort of general description of the locality. 
Further, her descriptions are reasonably 
accurate : the mountain seems " marvel- 
lous high," being the last of a range and 
jutting abruptly out of the plain ; the 
village is not close to the foot of the hill, 
but is " near " and " on one side " ; " in 
the meadow along the Seine " agrees with 
local tradition as to the point from which 
the lovers set out. 

* It is uncertain that Ille et Galeron^ written about 1 167, 
was based on Eliduc. See below, pp. 158, 195-6. 


Moreover, there are several phrases which 
seem to shov^^ personal acquaintance with 
the village, such as, " There is still a town 
of that name in this place ; and indeed the 
whole country, as we know well, is called 
the Vale of Pitres " ; and " There is many 
a good herb found to-day." 

On the whole, the claim of Pitres, since 
it does not conflict with the dialect, is 
worth attention. 

Though when and under what circum- 
stances Marie left France is unknown, it is 
generally agreed that she did much or all of 
her literary work in England. This ap- 
pears from the traces of Anglo-Norman 
in her dialect, and from her occasional use 
of English words (such as nihtegale^ gotelef^ 
welkey sepande\ as well as in the fact that 
she certainly translated her Fables from 
English. Where else could she have 
learned the lano;ua2:e well enousfh for that 
purpose ? Moreover, by one or two un- 
conscious slips of the pen she strengthens 
this conclusion. In the Purgatory she 
translates the Latin " in Angliam redie- 
runt" by " vindrent aluec en Angleterre," 
i.e.^ she changes " went back " into " came 
hither " ; and again in Milun she refers to 


the lands round about Brittany as " terres 
de la," i.e., lands yonder. 

The Count William to whom the Fables 
were dedicated probably lived in England, 
and probably knew little or no English, as 
the book was translated for him. The 
man who best answers to Marie's descrip- 
tion, " the most valiant of this realm " and 
" the flower of knighthood," is William 
Longespee or Longsword (i 150-1226), 
Earl of Salisbury, a natural son of 
Henry II and Fair Rosamond. Curiously 
enough, Marie's phrase " flurs de chevalrie " 
is almost the equivalent of one in the 
Latin inscription on the earl's tomb in 
Salisbury Cathedral, " flos comitum " 
(flower of knights). 

The king to whom Marie dedicated her 
Lays was almost certainly Henry II (who 
reigned 1154-89) ; and though we should 
scarcely accept to-day her flattering estimate 
of his character, he was a generous patron 
of literature, as we know from Wace in his 
Roman de Rou^ 11. 5315 ff., 10,455 ff-j so 
that Marie seems justified in her dedication. 

There is nothins: in her work to con- 
tradict the belief that the t'lth Dame bestowed 
upon her by Denis Pyramus, indicates thatshe 


was a lady of rank. On the contrary, there 
is much to confirm it: her education, the 
tone of her dedications taken in connection 
with the rank of the persons to whom they 
were addressed, the refinement of her work, 
and especially her representation of V amour 
courtois. This artificial love-code, based 
on Ovid as he was understood at that time, 
formulated in the twelfth century under 
the direction of Marie de Champagne, step- 
daughter of Henry II, appears in the Lays 
quite as much as in the romances of Chretien 
de Troyes. The atmosphere which Marie 
unconsciously reveals in her work is the 
very court atmosphere of the time. 

She was certainly well educated, even 
bookish, for her time. She prides herself on 
her knowledge of Latin (see Prologue) ; and 
she certainly knew it well enough to trans- 
late the Turgatory with a fair degree of 
accuracy. She knew English at a time when 
it was a strange tongue, even in England, 
among the upper classes. It is uncertain 
whether she knew Welsh or Breton (the 
use of two Breton words, bisclavret and 
laustic^ both titles of lays, is very little 
evidence), and she may easily have derived 
her materials at second or third hand. She 


nowhere states that she translates directly 
from " Bretun " ; she says only that 
" li Bretun " made the lays originally. Still, 
without being in any sense a scholar, she 
was a woman of considerable attainment. 

A curious change in attitude is observ- 
able between the Lays and Fables on the 
one hand and the Purgatory on the other. 
In the former she shows no interest in 
religious matters. In seven of the lays 
there are no religious allusions, while in the 
other five they are largely perfunctory. 
Very few prayers are introduced, and those 
are as short as possible. By comparing, for 
instance, the prayers in Guigemar^ pp. 12,25, 
with those of La Manekine (11. 1095-I160 
and 4601-4738) by the Sire de Beaumanoir, 
who was a layman, we see that the latter 
in describing similar situations of peril 
introduces prayers of proportionately twice 
and three times the length of those in 
Guigemar. Again, Marie seems to consider 
penance a very easy matter (see The Ash 
Tree, p. 39) ; she cannot resist a laugh at 
the Seigneur of Dol for his donation to the 
abbey {ib. pp. 44-5) ; she takes the 
blessing of the archbishop very lightly in- 
deed {ib. p. 49) ; her creed in JTonec (pp. 

145 K 


71-2) would hardly satisfy the orthodox ; 
and the divorce question in Eliduc (pp. 1 31-2) 
troubles her not at all. It can scarcely be 
denied that her attitude is thoroughly 

An apparent exception to this statement is 
found in the conclusion to ^'//Wwr (pp. 132-3). 
If it was from remorse that Eliduc put his 
second wife into the convent with his first, 
and founded for himself another monastery, 
at least we are not told that this was the 
reason ; it seems rather to be due to the 
gradual growth of a religious spirit in him 
as he became older. But in either case, 
the ending is tacked on so abruptly as to 
suggest that it was done later by some one 
who did not approve of the story as it 

In Gilles de Trasignies, a similar story, the 
ending is that the second wife at once 
voluntarily follows the example of the first 
in entering a convent, and the husband, 
being deprived of both, does the same. 
Whether Gilles depends upon Eliduc, or 
both go back to a common original, or each 
has chanced to solve the problem in this 
way, it is certain at least that both repre- 
sent a clumsy attempt to fit anon-Christian 


tale (in that it was originally polygamous, 
see Notes on Eliduc) into the Christian 

Whether this conclusion was due to 
Marie's original, or to some monkish copyist, 
or to Marie herself in later years, cannot 
perhaps be determined. In favour of the 
last view may be urged her own change of 
attitudeas seen in the Purgatory. Although 
this is a fairly close translation of the Latin 
treatise by the monk of Saltrey, there are 
several indications of a religious attitude on 
the part of the translator. First, the choice 
of subject would indicate this ; again, 
though the dedication to some " bel pere " 
is certainly in the original, and refers to the 
abbot at whose request the book was 
written, there seems no reason why Marie 
should have translated it, unless she in- 
tended it to refer to some ecclesiastic of her 
acquaintance, the more so as both her 
other works have elaborate dedications; 
and further, among the few lines that she 
inserts are several that bear out this point 
of view. There is no word now of her 
own fame ; she is doing this work " for 
God." And in contrast to her allusion in 
the Fables to " these many clerks," this poem 

is done "that it may be intelligible and 
suitable to lay folk." 

These reasons, of course, prove nothing 
more than that, like Denis Pyramus, she 
turned in her later years from romances to 
religion ; and, one might add, passed 
through a stage of interest in didactic litera- 
ture (the Fables) between the two. But 
as Henry II died in 1189, and as she was 
almost certainly connected with his court, 
it seems not impossible that she late in life 
severed her connection with the court, in 
whatever capacity she was there, and 
entered a monastery. This is pure con- 
jecture, but it accords with the known 

While the Fables are interesting chiefly 
in their relation to i^^sop, and the Purgatory 
has its chief value as being a forerunner of 
the Divine Comedy^ the Lays have a threefold 
interest: (i) in their relation to ancient folk- 
lore, especially Celtic ; (2) in their relation 
to the later romances ; (3) in their intrinsic 
literary value. 

The question as to whether the French 

lays are of Welsh or of Breton origin has 

become one of the famous battle-grounds in 

mediaeval literature. The early scholars, 



De la Rue, Roquefort, and others, ac- 
cepted the word Breton as meaning un- 
doubtedly Armorican ; and Villemarque, 
when he brought forward his Barzaz Breiz 
as containing the source of one of the lays 
{The Nightingale)^ maintained this theory. 
But M. Gaston Paris somewhat later ad- 
vanced a strong plea in favour of Welsh 
originals for lost Anglo-Norman poems, 
themselves the direct sources for the extant 
lays. Within the last decade a number of 
German scholars, headed by Professor 
Zimmer, have returned to the exclusively- 
Breton theory, supporting their position by 
philological, geographical, and historical 
arguments ; and these have in turn been 
attacked by MM. Loth, F. Lot, and others, 
who, while admitting some of their conten- 
tions, hold that both Breton and Welsh 
materials furnished sources for the lays. 
(For a brief summary of the main lines of 
argument, see Bedier, Marie de France^ 
Revue des deux mondes^ torn. 107.) 

Dr. Warnke, in his new edition of the 
Lays (1901) maintains on the whole the 
theory of a Breton origin ; but the last 
word has by no means been spoken on the 



While it is impossible here even to sum- 
marise the various lines of argument adopted, 
a few facts may be noted which bear upon 
the question : 

I. The history of France and England, 
of Wales and Brittany, during the twelfth 
century, shows many points of contact. 
Henry II continued the conquest of South 
Wales begun under Henry I. Welshmen fled 
to their Breton kindred for refuge from the 
Norman, many indeed being exiled. Further, 
Henry I spent most of the latter part of his 
life in France, and Henry II carried out a 
continuous and in the end fairly successful 
warfare of subjugation in Brittany. Henry's 
son Geoffrey married Constance, the heiress 
of Brittany, and became reigning duke, to 
whom all the native seigneurs were forced 
to do homage. The English were at 
Nantes, at Dol, at St. Michel. The English 
court was held frequently for months in the 
various Breton towns. It seems inevitable 
that under such conditions there should 
have been a very extensive interchange of 
ideas and stories among these races. Further, 
a bit of evidence to show the Welsh influ- 
ence may be given from Giraldus Cam- 
brensis, Itlnerarium Cambria^ lib. I., cap. i. 


Here we find the closest parallel to Marie's 
story of the hind with stag's horns, who, 
when shot, afflicted her slayer with blind- 
ness in the right eye and with paralysis. 
Giraldus adds that he had the story from 
one who knew the man, and also that the 
head and horns of the strange beast were 
taken to Henry II. The story may be a 
mere fabrication, based on earlier fairy tales 
of the sort, which are found especially in 
Irish literature ; but the fact remains that 
it is associated with Wales and with 
Henry II. 

2. The tendency of popular literature is 
to accumulate and assimilate to itself ele- 
ments from all other popular literatures 
with which it comes historically into con- 
tact. Granted the continued association 
of the English Normans with both Bretons 
and Welsh, it seems impossible to limit 
their sources to either the one or the other 

3. The evidence of the lays themselves 
is in favour of a two-fold origin. As to 
scene, they vary : Guigemar in its names of 
persons and places seems purely Breton, 
while The Honeysuckle seems purely Welsh. 
The scene of Equitan^ The Vnfortunatey 



The Ash Treey The Nightingale, and The 
Werewolf is Brittany ; but the localisation 
does not extend beyond the bare mention 
of a name here and there. The weight of 
evidence for Tonec and Lanval seems to 
point towards Great Britain (though the 
hero of the variant Graeknt in the case of 
the latter is distinctly Breton). In Milun 
and Eliduc the scene shifts from Great 
Britain to Brittany and vice versa, the 
former hero being a native of South Wales, 
the latter of Brittany; but it should be 
noted that here, in both cases, the more 
definite descriptions deal with Great Britain. 
The Two Lovers is Norman. (See Notes 
on the separate lays.) 

4. The sources of the lays, so far as it is 
possible to determine them by a comparison 
of parallel versions, are certainly, in large 
measure, Celtic, but by no means exclu- 
sively Breton. It may be due to accidents 
of preservation that Irish literature furnishes 
the largest number of parallels, Welsh next, 
while Breton and Scotch-Gaelic can give 
nothing more than isolated suggestions ; still 
the fact rather makes against the exclusively 
Breton theory. (See Notes as above.) 

The form of the original sources has 


been discussed largely. It is agreed that 
they were as a rule popular folk-stories, 
adapted for the court circles of the twelfth 
century ; but the number of siftings, of 
revisions, of additions, compressions, muti- 
lations, alterations and combinations that 
they passed through before Marie gave them 
their present shape, it is impossible at present 
to determine. At first one is inclined to 
make the number large ; but after com- 
paring with Marie^ on the one hand the 
primitive Irish tales of the S'llva Gadelica, 
and on the other the fully developed ro- 
mances of Ille et Galeron and Galereyit de 
Bretagne^ both dating from the twelfth 
century, one is inclined to emphasize the 
difference between the lays and romances 
rather than that between the lays and early 
folk-tales. Marie's poems contain, to a far 
larger degree than do the romances, traces 
of their Celtic originals in their delicate 
grace and simplicity and child-like naivete^ 
though it is also true that the primitive 
barbaric elements have been largely elimi- 

Still they are undoubtedly several removes 
from the Celtic materials. In holding this, 
it is not necessary to question Marie's 


truthfulness, for though she often says that 
"li Bretun" made them, and that she has 
heard them (and sometimes read them) she 
never once makes the claim that she herself 
got them from the Britons. 

Did Marie's material reach her in the 
form of verse or prose? The theory set 
forth by M. Bedier [Revue des deux 
mondes^ tom. 107, p. 849 fF.) and by Dr. 
Warnke (second edition of the Lays)^ 
seems to accord best with the known facts. 
This is briefly: that the narrative lays in 
Marie have developed out of an early form, 
in which the story was told in prose, and 
the emotions of the characters, usually in 
the form of a speech, were expressed in a 
short lyric, the prose being spoken, the 
poetry sung; that it was the music that 
first attracted the French minstrels, and 
roused curiosity as to the meaning; and 
since it would have been extremely difficult 
for them to render the verse adequately 
into French verse, it came about that the 
prose parts were done into verse, while the 
lay itself was either entirely omitted or 
embodied in a greatly altered or compressed 

There is abundant evidence as to the lyric 


character of the original lays. I shall quote 
only Galerent de Bretagne^ 11. 70 10-15 : 

" Nor did he fail to know both words 
and music, the note of Galeren le Breton. 
And all the ladies and knights hearkened to 
it, though none understood the delight of 
the words save they two (/.^., who knew 
Breton) ; but the song was sweet and made 
them all listen." 

Further, Gottfried von Strassburg men- 
tions a Welsh and an Irish harper as 
playing Breton lays. Giraldus Cambrensis, 
Descrip. Camb.^ lib. I, cap. xii, testifies to 
Welsh "cantilenis rhythmicis" (rhythmic 
songs) and to the fame of Welsh music ; and 
a singing contest of minstrels, a sort of early 
eisteddfod^ at the court of Prince Rhys in 
1 177, is mentioned lin the Welsh Chronicle 
(quoted by Hoare, ed. Gir. Camb., II, p. 53). 

Again, this prose and verse form blended 
is common in the early Irish stories, the 
only Celtic tales which in their existing 
form antedate the twelfth century. In the 
Silva Gadelica^ the singing of a lao'id^ a short 
lyric expression of the speaker's emotions, 
occurs very often. 

Lastly, this explanation makes clear 
several puzzling statements in the little 


introductions and conclusions of Marie. It 
explains her use of the word rhyme, her 
apparent distinction between conte or narra- 
tive and lay, her use of the expression " I 
have heard told " (conte). It explains : " The 
stories {contes) that I know to be true, of 
which the Britons have made lays, I will 
tell you " {conterai\ when taken in con- 
nection with " Of this conte that you have 
heard, was made the Lay of Guigemar 
which is told to the harp and to the rote — 
sweet is the music thereof" ; also, " I will 
tell you the Lay of the Ash, according to the 
cunte that I know " ; and " He who would 
treat of various stories " [cuntes), and "Of 
their love and weal, the ancients made a 
lay, and I who have put it into writing, 
take great pleasure in retelling it " {recunter). 
But the two most interesting passages are 
in The Unfortunate and in The Honeysuckle. 
In the former we have the description of 
the making of a lay, which could have been 
little more than a lament. The lady says : 
" In that I have loved you all so much, I 
will that my grief be remembered. Of you 
four I will make a lay and call it ^atre 
Doels " {four woes, or, perhaps, elegies ?). 
The knight bids her make it over again and 



call it The Unfortunate^ because he alone is 
unhappy ; his three companions have died 
gloriously, while he was only wounded and 
lives to look upon her whom he loves so 
dearly, and yet cannot win her love. 
Clearly Marie does not attempt to give 
even the substance of the lay, she gives only 
"the adventure" upon which it was 
founded ; she tells how it came to be made, 
and how it was changed (for the lady ac- 
cepts the knight's emendation). Again, in 
The Honeysuckle^ Marie claims distinctly 
that she is only telling how^ by whom and 
of what the lay was made. 

It seems probable then that the French 
lays were rhymed out of prose stories which 
contained lyrics called lays ; and that the 
French versions were so named partly 
because it was the lyric lays that especially 
attracted the French audience, and partly 
because they also were in verse form. Per- 
haps Aucassin and Nicolete represents, in some 
degree, the song-story form of the originals. 

That the French lays themselves were 
sung with a definite melody, it is impos- 
sible to believe ; that they were given in 
a sort of chant, with some musical accom- 
paniment, is probable. 


The influence of Marie's lays upon the 
development of mediaeval literature was at 
first considerable. They were in the drift 
of the tendencies of that time, as is shown 
perhaps by the fact that her stories of 
Lanval and M'llun are repeated in the 
anonymous lays, Graelent and Doon. The 
Honeysuckle^ indeed, appears to be merely 
an ofFshoot of the Tristan legend ; but 
The Ash Tree is the source for the romance 
of Galerent de ^retagne while Eliduc is akin 
to the source for the romance of Ille and 
Galeron. Aside from these facts, Guigemar 
and Eliduc by their length and complexity 
suggest the evolution of the lay into the 
romance. As we have no manuscript of 
the Lays later than the beginning of the 
fourteenth century, we may conclude that 
their popularity was exhausted by that time, 
or rather that they were superseded by the 
romances which they had helped to develop. 

All of Marie's lays except Eliduc were 
translated into Norse about the middle of 
the thirteenth century. Until recent times 
only two have been done into English, The 
Ash Tree about 1300, and Lanval no less 
than three times during the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries. 



With the awakening interest in things 
mediaeval towards the close of the eight- 
eenth century began the critical study of 
the life and work of Marie de France. 
The writings of Le Grand d'Aussy, 
Roquefort, Robert and De la Rue were 
followed by those of Mall and Warnke. 

While many eminent critics to-day busy 
themselves with the problems of Marie's 
life and work, very few attempts at trans- 
lation or imitation have been made. In 
1816, Miss Matilda Betham published a 
poem entitled Lay of MariCy in which a 
purely fictitious account of the mediaeval 
poet is given. In an appendix she gives 
Way's metrical translation of Guigemar and 
Lanval (from his Fabliaux)^ and Scott's 
prose version of The Honeysuckle (appendix 
to 5/r Tristre?n). In 1872, Mr. O'Shaugh- 
nessy published free metrical versions, with 
much additional material, of several of the 
lays, but they afFord little conception of 
the originals. Miss Weston has included 
Lanval 3.nd The TVerezvolfxn her collection 
oi Four French Lais, 1 900.* 

* Arthurian Romances unrepresented in Malory, 
No. 3. A translation of Ellduc by Mrs. Kemp- Welch has 
appeared in the Monthly Rcuuiv^ July, 1 90 1 . 


In determining the intrinsic merit of the 
lays, it is necessary first to endeavour to 
put aside the qualities due to the originals, 
and then to judge of their worth from the 
standpoint of revelation of personality and 
of the artistic skill shown in the treatment. 

It is by a comparison of the early Celtic 
tales with the fully-developed romances of 
Marie's own time that we are enabled to 
put aside the qualities of style to which she 
may not lay credit. Further, judging by her 
literal rendering of the Purgatory, we must 
expect to find her peculiarities in the little 
unconscious touches and expressions of 
sympathy rather than in a definite theory 
of modification of her sources. While we 
may not credit her with the dainty bits of 
nature and little scenes from life scattered 
throughout the lays, we may praise her 
judgment for keeping them (though, to be 
sure, we do not know how many others 
she has omitted) ; and further, we can 
praise the discretion and restraint which 
kept her from over-embroidering with in- 
congruous details the delicate fancies of her 
originals. Whether it is from a sense of 
duty to her originals, or from a natural 
simplicity of mind, as opposed to the 
1 60 


subtlety of Chretien de Troyes or Benoit 
de Sainte-More, she has a child-like delight 
in the external and tangible, in the story for 
itself, that is rather refreshing in an age 
over-fond of analysing situations and states 
of mind. The sentimentality to which 
M. Bedier attributes her popularity among 
women seems to me a quality of the 
subject-matter, the treatment being brusque, 
and at times almost flippant. 

Whatever her rank and position may 
have been, she is essentially aristocratic in 
her tastes; she is imbued with the ideals 
of chivalry, with its rigid standards of 
courtesy and its un-modern morality; she 
does not escape, superficially, the impress 
of the Church. Yet when we examine 
these qualities, we see that they need 
further modification. Here and there we 
find gleams of sympathy with " poor 
peasant folk"; again her conception of 
Vamour courtois^ complete as it is, is not 
altogether orthodox. Usually she favours 
the lovers as against the husband — one 
of the fundamental principles of ramour 
courtois being that the husband could not 
continue to be the lover — but in Equitan 
and The JVerewolf she distinctly condemns 


the wife's treachery, seeming also to dis- 
approve of her intrigue, while in Eltduc^ 
the hero has most modern ideas on the duty 
of conjugal faithfulness. And as to religion, 
it was quite unimportant to her until she 
wrote the Purgatory. 

She is French in her light-heartedness, 
which now and then is touched with a 
dash of wit or a delicate bit of humour, as 
in her account of Gurun's generosity in 
The Ash Tree, and of the old porter, or 
her description of the lovers in The 

On the whole, the impression one gets 
is of a clever, lively woman, delicate- 
minded yet not too orthodox, with no 
great power of originality, who being quite 
aware of her knack of saying things prettily, 
turns to literature partly as a pastime and 
partly out of ambition. 

That she had an ideal appears from 
the introduction to Guigemar ; that she 
worked hard, from this as well as from the 
Prologue. Yet, while the first impression 
which one derives from the lays is one 
of charm, due perhaps to the clear-cut 
pictures and fitness of the phrasing to the 
ideas, structurally they are not " well told." 


They show the lack of unif)'ing power, so 
common a defect in mediaeval narratives ; 
the various elements in the plot are often 
badly combined, the centre of interest is 
shifted unskilfully at times, and on the 
whole we feel that it is brevity of material 
perhaps rather than artistic skill in handling 
it, that saves Marie from the exa2:2;erated 
faults of some of her contemporaries. 

The characters are largely conventional ; 
there is a fixed type of physical and 
spiritual qualities for hero, heroine, and 
villain. Yet at intervals we find flashes 
of insight into human nature, some of 
them so unimportant to the tale that they 
would seem to be Marie's own ; such as, 
the laugh of the angry husband in The 
Nightingale^ the mutual shyness of the 
lovers and Guilliadun's reception of the 
chamberlain in Eliduc^ the finding of the 
waif in The Ash Tree^ and the guilty 
mother's feeling when she recognises her 
daughter, in the same poem. 

Smoothness, lightness, and ease in 
managing her verse — the common octo- 
syllabic rhyming couplet of the time, 
perhaps best represented in English by 
Chaucer's later Dethe of Blaunche the 


Duchesse — Marie shared with most of her 
contemporaries. Compared with the ex- 
quisite Tightness of Aucassin and Nicolete^ 
her Lays seem artificial, while set over 
against the gorgeous and elaborate fancies 
of Chretien de Troyes, they seem almost 
childishly simple. But she had some poetic 
instinct and some experience of life in the 
most brilliant period of the Middle Ages ; 
moreover, she had a pretty gift of miniature 
painting, a clever touch in phrasing, the 
wisdom to choose ancient folk-tales, beauti- 
ful in themselves, and the patience to re- 
mould them conscientiously and to " wake 
ni2;hts " in the work. The results were 
perhaps not unworthy of the great king to 
whom they were presented. 





Page 3. — Priscian tells us. Author of a famous text- 
book on grammar, the histitutiones Grammaticae. He 
Hved at the end of the 5th century, and his book was 
widely studied during the Middle Ages. The passage to 
which Marie alludes occurs at the beginning, where 
Priscian discusses at length the question of imitating the 
Greeks, but does not make the statement which Marie 
attributes to him. 

Page 3. — Mii^ht employ the whole resources of their wit, 
Dante, in his De Vulgari Eloquentia, lib. I, i, speaks 
in somewhat the same manner of the literary language, 
saying that few acquire the use of it, " because we can 
be guided and instructed in it only by the expenditure of 
much time and by assiduous study." 

Page 3. — Keep himself from sin . . . spare himself great 
sorrozv. The author of Renard le Conirefait, writing in 
the early part of the 13th century, expresses in some 
detail a similar thought. He speaks of the advantage ot 
leisure for the production of good literary work, and tells 
how people who read old stories and translate Latin into 
Romance, are able to put sin and sorrow away from 


This lay belongs t "> the same class of fairy stories as 
Graelent, Lanval, Guingamor and Dt'sir^, while traces 


of the influence of this type of tale are to be seen in Dolo- 
pathos (the seventh story in the collection), in La Naissance 
die Chevalier au Cygne [Piibl. of the Mod. Lang. Assoc, 
of America, IV), and in Partoiiopeus de Blois. Less 
distinctly it appears also in certain features of the English 
Generidcs (translated from a lost French original), in 
Emard (also from a lost French poem), and in Mdusine. 
It is alluded to in Erec et Enide, 1. 1954 ff., and in the 
continuation of the Perceval, 11. 21,779, 21,857-79. 

It appears then that the story was widely known in the 
I2th century, the date of most of the above-mentioned 
works, and that its influence extended into the 13th, 
and even later. It seems worth while to consider briefly 
(i) the relation of Gnigemar to the other members of the 
group, and (2) the probable source of this type of story. 

Professor Zimmer has shown [Zisch. f fr. Spr. u. 
Liu., XIII, p. 8 ff.) that Guingamor and Guigemar 
are variant forms of the same name. It does not of 
course follow that the stories are identical, as there are 
frequent instances of different and inconsistent tales 
attaching themselves to one hero. 

Comparing the five lays for resemblances and differ- 
ences, we find : 

1. Gicig. alone has the definite theme that contempt ot 
love leads to excessive suffering through love. In Lanv. 
Grael. and Dds. the suffering is caused by disobedience 
to the fairy mistress, while in Gtiing. also this idea 
appears, though subordinated to the narrative of the 
knight's adventures. 

2. Guig. and Dh. alone have the introduction dealing 
wiih the hero's early life and education. 

3. In G2iig. and Dis. alone we have the strange deer 
(though details and circumstances vary). In Giilng. a 
boar is used instead. Lanv. and Grael. agree in omit- 
ting the incident. 

4. Lanv. Grael. and Guing. agree in having the 
wooing by the queen, though in the last, it is soon lost 
sight of, and in the other two it leads to the trial of the 
knight and his rescue by the fairy. In Dds. also he 
finally goes to fairyland with his lady, though under 
different circumstances. In Guig» alone he wins the 



lady in battle and takes her away with him, to his own 
home apparently, 

5. In Gtiig. alone we have journeys across the sea, 
though in Guing., Lanv. and Grael. there is a "perilous 
river" to be crossed. 

6. In the love episode itself, Grael. and Lanv. agree, 
and, on the whole, Dds. though with several additions. 
Guing., though with a different arrangement of episodes, 
is also fundamentally the same. Guig. is entirely different. 
Here the attempt is made to convert the fairy mistress 
into a mortal, and as she is the wife of a jealous old man, 
the love-story becomes an intrigue similar to that in the 
first part of Yonec, plus the account of the adventures at 
Meriaduc's castle, where the lovers are finally united. 

From even this brief comparison, it appears \hd,\.La7zv. 
and Grael. are undoubtedly the same story, while Guing. 
and Dds. are simply other versions of it with inde- 
pendent alterations and additions, Guing. and Dds. 
both show features approaching nearer to Guig. than 
the other two. It would seem, then, that in its first 
part Guig. goes back to the source of Guing. and 
Dds.., while, in the second, it depends upon an entirely 
different story of marital jealousy. It is the imperfect 
blending of the two that accounts for the many incon- 
sistencies and obscurities in the lay. To mention only a 
few : the lady is mortal, yet she alone can heal the 
knight's wound ; she has foreknowledge of the discovery 
of the love intrigue, yet is powerless to prevent it; she is 
imprisoned for more than two years, and escapes finally 
in a most mysterious way ; she has no control over the 
fairy ship, yet it serves her as well as her lover ; she fives 
in " the capital city of that realm," but neither city nor 
realm has a name ; the jealous husband is simply dropped 
from the story, as soon as the lovers have escaped from 
his castle. Especially obscure is the part played by the 
hind : she is apparently much distressed, about to die of 
the wound inflicted by Gnigcinar, yet through her he 
attains his happiness. She does not conduct him to the 
ship, and yet, unless she is in some way connected with 
the ship, it is difficult to see how she plays any further 
part in the story. 



Partotwpeus de Blois, written by a contemporary ol 
Marie, contains the story in the following form : the 
knight is separated from his companions during a hunt, 
and is led by a boar to the ship which conveys him, with- 
out visible propelHng agencies, to the land where he finds 
his lady. It is noteworthy that she is not a fay, but a 
mortal who has studied magic, that she sends the ship, 
that he loses her through breaking a taboo, and wins her 
again in a tournament. These facts, when taken in con- 
nection with the inconsistencies in Guigemar, suggest 
that the original form of this version may have been 
somewhat along these lines. 

From the numerous verbal resemblances, especially in 
rhyme-words, among the five lays, Partonopeiis and 
Dolopathos, we may infer that the minstrels, in retelling 
the story, combined a degree of verbal memory with 
fresh material introduced for the sake of variety, accord- 
ing to their own fancy and stock of experience. 

The basic story can be paralleled in general outline 
and in some details in Irish, and to some extent in 
Welsh. In Irish, we have the hero-tales of Con?ila and 
the Fairy A/aiden {]a.cobs, Celtic Fairy Tales, and Joyce, 
Old Celtic Romances), Oisin in Tirnanoge (Joyce) and 
the Voyage of Bran. Of these, the first and last are 
older than the lays, and the second, though modern in 
form, bears the marks of considerable antiquity. Oisin 
and Bran share with Guingamor the feature of a return 
to earth after an abode in fairyland. There is a group 
of similar stories in Welsh (RhyS, Celtic Folklore), and 
there are several told in much the same manner in Map's 
De Nugis Curialium^ twelfth century, distinc. II, cap. 
xi-xiv, and IV, viii-xi), in which a fairy comes 
out of a lake, or in a boat, or appears by the lake-side, 
or in the forest, and wins the love of a shepherd or 
farmer. In most of these she is lost through the break- 
ing of a taboo, though in others he is taken away to 
fairyland and never heard of again, and in one, at least, 
he returns after seven years. 

Several episodes are paralleled repeatedly in Celtic 
literature. The magic deer (or sometimes boar) into 
which a fairy transforms herself, or which is under her 

control, is especially common. Finn's fairy sweetheart, 
in The Colloijuy (O'Grady, Silva Gadelica, p. 163), 
could take the form of any animal she pleased. In The 
Chase of Slieve Fuad (Joyce) is a doe, "very large and 
fierce, with a great pair of sharp, dangerous antlers," 
which is used by an enchantress to decoy certain heroes. 
In Jensen's Eddystone, in The Chase 0/ Slieve CuUinn 
(Joyce), and in various other Celtic tales, a hind of 
supernatural origin occurs; and in various other mediaeval 
works, as 7)'(?/e/ and Gottfried's T'rw^a;/, we find similar 
strange beasts. Another sort of parallel is furnished by 
Giraldus Cambrensis [cf. Introductioii, p. 151) in his 
story of the Welsh hunter who received such sore bodily 
injury upon killing a hind with stag's horns. Again, we 
find still another sort of parallel in the Scotch-Gaelic 
Leeching of Cay ?i' s Leg []^cobs, More Celtic Fairy Tales), 
in which the heroine appears first as a roe-buck, and 
later, when her husband has broken three promises which 
she exacted of him, turns into a filly and wounds a man, 
by kicking him in the thigh, so that he can be healed 
only by a magic salve. 

According to the oldest recorded Irish version of this 
same tale, given in Silva Gadelica, p. 332 ff. of the 
translation, O'Cronigan meets the fairy in the woods, and 
she takes refuge in the form of a hare in his bosom, 
promising him the dearest boon he could ask in return 
for his help. He deserts his own wife and lives with the 
fairy very happily for three years. Then at a feast which 
O'Cronigan gives, Cian falls in love with her, and when 
she refuses to be his, he knocks her down, whereupon she 
becomes a mare and rushes to the door. It is when he 
tries to stop her that she kicks him and injures his leg, so 
that no leech can heal it. At the end of a year his nephew 
brings him a salve which cures him, apparently a magic 
salve, though this is not perfectly clear. Ihis older version 
is interesting because the logic is clearer between the 
transformation of the woman and the wounding of the 
man. And, again, the flight of the fairy when she is 
struck affords an interesting suggestion at least of the 
taboos (in Map and Rhys) laid upon the husband by the 
fairy-wife, not to strike her. 


A similar story forms the opening of Macphie's Black 
Dog {Scottish Celtic Revieiu, I), It is in his introduction 
to this that Campbell makes a statement which throws 
considerable light on the part played by the hind, which 
is, that the belief is common in the Highlands that 
deer are the fairies' cattle ; hence arises the hostility of 
the fairies towards deer-hunters, and hence, also, their 
predilection for transforming themselves into deer. 

The marvellous hind then is clearly a fairy, who being 
wounded to the death while in this form (and that fairies 
became mortal during their transformation is shown 
repeatedly — cf. Yonec, also Macphie's Black Dog, in 
which the fairy shows her true form as soon as the gun 
is pointed at her, and becomes a stag again as soon as it 
is lowered), takes her revenge on Guigemar by choosing, 
perhaps, what she considers the most unlikely mode of 
healing for him. It is difficult to see why the wound in 
the foot should be fatal ; either this was the one vulner- 
able spot, or perhaps the arrow was poisoned. 

In Partonopeus the boat was sent by the lady, and as 
the lady in this story was, according to Erec et Enide, 
1. I9S4 ff. , no less a person than Morgain la fee, the 
fairy queen herself, it is very probable that originally 
she sent the boat to save the knight. 

A magic boat appears in Ccnnla, in the Fate of the 
Children of Turenn (Joyce), and in one of the Welsh 
versions (Rhys I, p. 17). 

The theme of the jealous husband is too common to 
be definitely localised. As it is treated in Guigemar, 
however, its resemblance to Yonec is noteworthy, the 
greatest differences being that the lover comes in a 
magic boat instead of as a bird, and when the intrigue is 
discovered, is turned adrift in the hope that he may 
perish, instead of being killed outright. Ahlstrom's argu- 
ments {Stud. i. den. fornfr. Lais-Litt.) that this part 
of the lay shows Oriental influence have not been generally 

Although the parallels given belong entirely to Great 

Britain, critics agree that the names used point to a 

Breton origin for the lay. Guigemar's home is in L^on, 

a province m the north-west of Brittany. His name had 



been borne by five lords of Ldon, two of whom were 
famous men and contemporary with Marie ; Hoilas is 
Hoel or Howel, the name of six dukes of Brittany, 
though Marie probably refers to the Arthurian Hoel, 
mentioned in Wace and Geoffrey of Monmouth ; and 
Meriaduc was the name (Conan Meriaduc in full), of 
a mythical leader of the fifth century, under whose 
rule the (fabulous) conquest of Brittany was accom- 
plished, as we read in Geoffrey of Monmouth. 

Meriadoc is the name of one of the traitors in several 
versions of the Tristan story. He is also the hero of the 
French romance, Li Chevaliers as Deus Espees, and of 
the Latin prose Vita Meriadoci (recently edited by Pro- 
fessor Bruce). However, there seems to be no connec- 
tion between any of these stories and the Meriaduc in 
Guigeniar ; mdeed, they are all associated with Wales, 
while, according to Marie, Mt-riaduc lived in Brittany. 
That there was a well-known castle bearing his name, 
near St. Pol-de-Leon, seems certain. It is mentioned in 
the prologue to the Vie de Saifit Goeznou, written 1019, 
as Castrum Meriadoci (De la Borderie, Hist, de Bret., 
n, p. 526) ; and again, in a fourteenth-century Latin 
poem as semirutum (half-ruined) castelluni Meriadoc hi 
(De la Borderie, HI, p. 389). There may well have 
been traditions about Meriadoc current in Brittany, one 
of which served as a basis for this part of the story, or 
Marie m.ay have laid the scene at this castle because it 
was a familiar landmark. 

Summing up, we may say, I think, that Guigemar is a 
composite of a story belonging to the Lanval-Guin- 
gamor group, but varying iu the direction of Partono- 
peus, and of a story similar to the first part of Yo/iec. 
Moreover, it seems probable that the combination was 
not made before the middle of the twelfth century, that 
is, if not due to Marie herself, it must have been made by 
her immediate predecessor. Among the reasons for 
believing this are: (i) Conan Meniaduc is scarcely 
known in literature before Geoffrey of Monmouth ; 
(2) the hind episode iis related by Marie would be far 
more telling after the similar episode had been related 
n connection with Henry H ; (3) the sign of welding 



are still so very apparent. If the two stories had been 
long handed down together, these signs would have dis- 
appeared before the story reached Marie, and hence 
became fixed in its final literary form. As it is, the lay 
seems to mark a transition from the old simple folk-tale 
in the direction of the elaborate episodic romance.* 

Page 7. — W/io uses her time — io speak ill is their 
vatiire. An attitude very similar to Marie's towards her 
work is shown by the poet Renart in his introduction to 
the Lai de VOmbre. His general line of thought is : 
that he would rather employ his wit in good composition 
than be idle ; and instead of tearing down the work of 
others, will build up some good thing, some pleasant 
work, even although churlish folk should scoff at him for 
employing his " courtesy" in this way ; for he is foolish 
who stops because of mockery or blame ; if any wretch 
sticks out his longue at this work, he is acting only 
according to his nature. 

The companson of a churlish backbiter to a dog occurs 
also in Le Donnei des Ainants, 11. 67-75 [Romania, xxv) : 
' ' The mastiff and the churl in body and in nature are 
much alike. A dog shows friendliness by wagging his 
tail, then bites with his teeth — and a churl does much 
the same. When the churl most flatters you, beware 
lest he do you mischief ; and when he shows you honour, 
'tis not from courtesy, but from fear." 

Page 8. — Noguent. Curiously enough the sister is 
introduced and named, though Marie frequently has no 
names for her principal characters (out of fifty important 
characters only sixteen have names), and then dropped 
from the story. Perhaps originally Noguent's story also 
was given. 

Pages 11-12. — Solomon's work. The details of the 
ship bear some resemblance to Parfonopeus, 11. 701-59. 
The phrase " Solomon's work" is explained by several 
passages in the later Grand S. Graal{cf. Lonelich's version, 

* For further reference and discussion on the sources of the 
Lays, see Koliler's Vergleichende Atimerkungen, with Warnke's 
additions, in Warnke's second edition. For this poem especially 
see Schofield's Lay of Gtthtgamor, in Harvard Sitidies and 
Notes, V. 


E. E. T. S. , chap, xxviii, pp. 353-65; chap, xxx, pp. 
390-404 ; chap, xxxi, pp. 412-17), m which occurs a 
description of the ship built by Solomon, an account of 
its building and its symbolism. In the Gra?2d S. Graal, 
Solomon builds the ship for the perfect knight who is to 
come of his line, and puts in it David's sword and crown 
with various other things for his use. When the sym- 
bolism of the ship is fully explained, we learn that it 
represents the Holy Church, and the sea, the world ; the 
bed is the Holy Altar, also Christ's Cross, and so on. 
No one may enter the ship unless he is full of faith, and 
the moment he loses faith it splits ; otherwise, it cannot 
be injured. Ii is not to be supposed that Marie intended 
to imply the elaborate symbolism found in the Gra?id S. 
Graal, nor is it certain that it even existed in her day ; 
but she may have read some legend of a fine ship 
built by Solomon, and carried in her mind a few of the 
details. But the phrase more probably refers to the 
kind of ornamentation. (See Du Mcfril, Floire et Blan- 
chijlor, 1. 556, where a marble tomb is inlaid with gold 
and silver de latri/oire Salemon; also, Furster, De Venus 
la Deesse d' Amour, st. 214, where an ivory saddle is 
icilaid trestot de Vnevre Salejnon.) Perhaps I Kings, 
chap, vi, with its description of Solomon's Temple, which 
was so largely ' ' overlaid with gold ' may have given rise 
to the term. 

Page 12. — Whoso placed his head zipoji it. The 
pillow suggests one in Genervdes (ed. Furnivall, 11. 291- 

" Vnder whos heid it lay a stound, 
With what sekenes he wer bound, 
As long as it vndre him lay, 
Shuld noon yuell doo him betray." 
Page 14. — Ovids book. While the book of Ovid men- 
tioned is evidently the De Remedio Amoris, it seems not 
impossible that the painting which represented " the ways 
and nature of love," might have been in illustration of 
the far more famous Ars A materia. That Venus should 
be displeased with the De Remedio is, of course, natural. 
Her method of dealing with it is distinctly mediaeval. 
She burns it as heretical works were burned, and 


"anathematizes" all who should read it, or follow its 
teachings. These paintings show marvellous lack of 
diplomacy on the part of the jealous husband ; but perhaps 
the description is entirely without reference to the 

Page 21. — Churls that call themselves knights. 
" Villeins courteous " is the literal translation, and the 
m eaning is, men of knightly rank who do deeds worthy 
only of "villeins," i.e., peasants. The aristocratic tone 
is characteristic of Marie. 

Page 23. — Plait in it a fold — whoso could open the 
buckle thereof. The plait and girdle, though probably 
originally magic, scarcely need 10 be so considered here. 
They do not occur in any other form of the story, and 
bear only a remote resemblance to other similar objects 
in mediaeval or classical literature, as, the Gordian knot, 
and the knot tauglit Ulysses by Circe [Od. viii, 1. 448) ; 
and the girdle in the Bevers-saga. It is noteworthy that 
in Generydes (ed. Furnivall), 11. 539-47, 605-20, 2325- 
2488, and Generidcs (ed. Wright), 11. 190-6, 1 163-1253, 
Aufreus' shirt-sleeve is stained by the tears of liis 
mistress, and can be washed clean only by herself ; and 
it is by this means that, after a long separation, he 
finally discovers her. 

Page 24. — A great beam of fine. The great beam 
which Guigemar seizes but does not use, may be a sur- 
vival from a more primitive form of the story. 


This story falls into two distinct parts: the first 
hinges upon the common mediaeval belief that it was 
impossible for a virtuous wife to have twins, and the 
second is the theme of the patient resignation of a man's 
love by a woman who has the best claim to it. 

The lay as it stands is unique, but the elements of 
which it is composed were familiar matter in the Middle 
Ages. The first part appears in many forms in various 
popular tales, especially in Germany. In a large 
number of cases, the story is simply that a lady of rank 
reproves a beggar woman who has had twins or triplets, 


and is herself punished by having many more children 
at a birth. (For the titles of various collections of these 
popular tales, see Warnke, second edition of the Lais.) 
In a Dutch version (in the Chronicle of Hermann 
Korner published in Eccard's Corpus historicum niedii 
aevi, II, pp. 951:^-956), one lady of rank accuses another 
and is the cause of her hubbaud's putting her away. In 
this feature, it is manifestly nearer to The Ash Tree than 
the preceding forms of the story, though in its details 
widely different. In a Danish ballad (Grundtvig's 
Dantnarks gamle Folkeviser, V, 386, No. 285 E), there is 
no question of slandering a neighbour, but the woman is 
punished for making, in public, a general statement 
similar to that in The Ash Tree ; and, as in the lay, she 
tries to get rid of one child (here by throwing it into 
the water). There is also a Spanish romance in which 
it is the law that all mothers of twins should be burned 
or cast into the sea. The queen has two sons and 
disposes of one of them by putting him into a casket 
with gold and jewels, and letting this drift out to sea. 
Like Le Fraisne, he is named from the place where he is 
found, Espiiielo, from a thorn-bush where the waves cast 
him ashore. Similar is the Italian poem Gibello in 
which the child, instead of being thrown inlo the sea, is 
given to foreign merchants whom the nurse happens to 

I'his story early became blended with the story of the 
man who married a swan-maiden, whose children were 
either monstrous, or were reported to be so by her 
mother-in-law, who thus took opportunity to wreak her 
malice. This is the case in Le Chevalier au Cyg?te et 
Godefroidde Bouillon,-p\xh\\she<l by Baron de Reiffenberg, 
as may be seen by a comparison vvith La Naissance du 
Chevalier au cygne, where something of the wife's super- 
natural character is retained. Upon a prose version of 
the former romance depends the English prose History of 
the noble Helyas, Knixht of the Szuanfie, and the Dutch 
folk-book of the Ridder met de Zwan. 

In another French romance. La Chanson du Chevalier 
au Cygfie et de Godefroi de Bouillon, published by 
Hippeau, the king laments that he has no children, upon 
177 M 


seeing a woman with twins, whereupon the queen* 
makes the spiteful remark that occurs in The Ash Tree, 
and is punished by having seven children at once. This 
poem is the source of a Latin Historia de viilite de la 
Cygne, published in de Reiffenberg's edition, and of the 
English Romance of the Chctielere Assigj/e. 

In still another group of stories this motif is combined 
with an attempt on the part of a jealous mother-in-law to 
separate her son from his wife by proving that the wife 
has really been false to her husband. Here belong the 
Italian Libro di Fioravafitr, the slory of which occurs 
also in the Reali di Francia (Libro II, cap. 42), and 
the French and English versions of Octavian. 

The second part of the story seems to have been 
widely known. It bears a certain general resemblance 
in idea to the story of Griselda, as told by Petrarch, 
Boccaccio and Chaucer, but varies so utterly in its details 
that it cannot be regarded as the source of these, in 
which the heroine is really of humble birth, is the wife of 
the hero, and is put aside temporarily, after she has 
endured patiently various other trials, only as a crowning 
test of her wifely obedience. 

There is a ballad, found in Danish, Swedish, Dutch, 
German and Scotch, which bears a stronger resemblance 
to the second part of The Ash Tree. In this, the heroine 
is kidnapped when a child by robbers who sell her to the 
knight, though in the Scotch versions he himself stole 
her. After they have lived together many years and 
have had seven children, he puts her aside on account of 
her unknown birth, or because he can get more "gold 
and gear" from another, and marries her sister; but the 
recognition comes in time. In several of the Scotch 
versions, the bride suggests driving her away, a trait 
which may have been suggested by the mother-in-law's 
attitude in Marie ; and in one .Swedish and one Dutch 
version, the brooch by which she was recognised was one 
which she had when she was stolen — a detail, perhaps, 

* However, as the queen is found by the king on a hunting- 
trip, when he stops to rest by a fountain in a wood, much as in 
La Naissance, presumably she was originally a fairy in this 
case also. 



derived from the episode of the ring and the mantle {c_f. 
Grundtvig, Danmarks ganile Volkeviser, V, p. 13 ff., 
and Child's Ballads, II, p. 63 ff.) 

While there seems no reason for doubting that this lay 
is derived from a Celtic source, — indeed, the details con- 
cerning the lay sung in Galerent dc Bretagne as Breton 
in character, increase the probability of this— it does not 
seem to have been as widely diffused as some of the 
other lays. That the episode of the twins is only an 
introduction, which did not belong originally to the 
story, is shown by the ballads ; and when this is put 
aside, the tale is found elsewhere only in this group of 
ballads. M. de la Borderie suggests (III, p. 223) 
that it may be a local legend attaching itself to the 
village of La Coudre, about two leagues from Dol, 
which in the Middle Ages was a flourishing community. 

Page 39. — He who slanders another. There are 
similar proverbs among Marie's /''ii^/^j .- "Therefoie no 
one ought to find fault with, or blame, the deed of 
another, nor bring another into ill repute ; let each 
criticise himself ! One may easily reprehend another's 
deed, who ought to be chiding himself" (No. liii) ; 
also, " Such people secure the ill of another in such a 
way that the same comes upon themselves" (No. Ixviii). 

Page 40. — Spangled silk. Literally wheeled, i.e., 
covered with wheel-shaped ornaments, a design popular 
at that time. 

Page 43. — Le FraisJie. Cf. La Coldre, p. 47. In the 
names is indicated the popular origin of the tale. Names 
are given from some physical peculiarity or from some 
circumstance connected with the early history of the 
ohild. Cf. Cinderella, Snow- White, Gold-Tree, Silver- 
Tree, Tom Thumb, Little One-Eye. 

Page 46. — Espouse a lady of noble birth. He could 
not marry Le Fraisne because of her unknown origin. 
The Middle English translation (Weber's Metrical 
Romances, I, 1. 312) explains this: "Of was (whose) 
kin he knewe non." The same reason is suggested in 
most of the ballads. 

Page 46. — They would not hold him as seigneur. A 
similar instance of the power of vassals over their liege- 


lord is seen in the story of Pwyll, Prince of Dyved 
(Guest's Mabinogiofi), where the hero is counselled to put 
away his wife because she is supposed to have murdered 
her child. 

Page 47. — The Archbishop of Dol. The allusion to 
the Archbishopric of Dol gives one limit for the date of 
the poem, as this See was suppressed in 1199. 

Page 48. — Bofu. An unknown kind of rich cloth, 
usually mentioned in connection with silk, vair, gris. 
See Godefroy, Dictionnaire de l' Aficienne Lattgue 

Page 49. — Laying aside her man fie. This was a 
mark of respect at that time, probably symbolising a 
willingness to serve. Cf. p. 48, where the act is simply 
one of convenience, 


This story seems to be a local legend (see hitroduction, 
pp. 141-2) which exerted no appreciable influence upon 
mediaeval literature. It is perfectly well known among 
tlie peasantry of the district to-day, as I ascertamed by 
inquiry, and is said to be published under the title 
L Histoire des Deux Amanfs, perhaps a modern chap- 
book. The story survives also in a series of paintings, 
dating apparently from the early part of the 19th 
century, which are preserved in the chateau built out of 
the ruins of the old " Prieur6 des Deux Amants." This 
monastery stood until the i8th century on the summit of 
La cote des Dejix Amants, the "mountain marvellous 
high " (350 feet above the Seine and fairly steep, so much 
so that one part of the ascent is by a series of winding 
steps cut out of the turf). 

No connection can be established between the present- 
day popular version and older folk-loie. It is possible 
that the modern form has a purely literary ancestry, and 
is derived from Moric. This much may be said : at the 
end of the 18th century, the story was revived by 
the poet David Duval de Sanadon in a so-called "fab- 
liau," UOrigine du Prieiin' des Deux Amants, which is 
known to have had a purely literary origin and to depend 


ultimately upon Marie, but whether the modern popular 
version is derived from these literary productions or is a 
faint and far-away reflection of Marie's source, it is 
impossible to say, without examining the popular 

The lay contains several hints that Marie herself may 
have used a hterary source. The most important of 
these is the use of the word Netistria. After the time of 
Charlemagne it was used only in an historical sense, 
Marie seems to have found it necessary to translate it for 
her hearers ; it is therefore extremely improbable that it 
would have been used by the people. Moreover, it was 
used several times by Wace, in phrasing very similar to 
Marie's {Romafi de Rou, 11. 94, 141-2, 1 189). It occurs also 
in Geoffrey, but only once and without explanation. 
This is one of a number of slight links by which Marie's 
work seems to be connected with the \vorks of these two 
men. It was, of course, almost inevitable that she should 
have read them. 

While it may be that Neustria is only a touch of 
pedantry borrowed by Marie from Wace, there are 
several grounds for holding that she mav Ijave got the 
story from some narrative attached to the history of the 
priory. This was known by its curious name as early as 
1031, when it was mentioned in connection with a grant of 
land. There are several theories to account for the 
name : one, that it was applied spiritually to a sculptured 
group of Christ and Mary Magdalen — it was dedicated to 
the latter — over the door ; another that it was originally 
des deux amonts, from the fact that it stood in the angle 
formed by two intersecting ranges of hills. However 
this may be, in popular tradition (La Rochefoucauld, 
Not. hist, sur Varrond. des Andelis, pp. 54-6) it was 
founded in the 12th century over the tomb of the lovers. 
This tradition may be based entirely upon Marie ; but on 
the other hand, the stress which she herself puts upon the 
tomb, both at the beginning and at the end of her poem, 
rather suggests that this was a familiar object in her day, 
especially when it was taken in connection with the lact 
that the site of the chapel wherein stood the tomb of the 
lovers is still pointed out as being occupied by the library of 


the present chateau. It is not impossible that some such 
story as Marie's original may have been fabricated, or, if 
it already existed, attached to the priory to explain its 
origin. This would obviously attract attention to the 
priory, and would bring travellers there, to its profit. 
And again, this process was not unknown in the Middle 
Ages. The Abbey of St. Albans in England attached 
stories of the two OfFas to its early history to enhance its 

It is a curious coincidence that the hill is said still to 
furnish a few rare botanical specimens. The Marquis 
de Blosseville {Extraits du Precis des Travatix de 
r Academic impdriale des Sciejices, Belles lettres etArts de 
Rouen, annde 1867-8, p. 525) states that M. Prdvost 
found two, one of which was Phytheuvia orbicularis, or 
herb of love. This rather points towards a confusion in 
idea of the potion from Salerno with the plants supposed 
in popular tales to spring from the graves of lovers who 
coine to a tragic end. In Duval's poem it is said that 
popular superstition makes this ' ' an herb of love, a 
philtre of happiness ;" but ,the authority for the state- 
ment is unknown. 

The story, as Marie tells it, contains undoubtedly an 
allusion to the popular mediaeval tale of the king who 
fell in love with his own daughter, the earliest known 
form of which is the late Greek romance Apollonius of 
Tyre. For English versions, see Gower, Confessio Avian- 
lis, book, vlii, 1. 271 ff., ed. Macaulay, Pericles, Prince of 
Tyre, included among Shakespeare's plays, and Eviari. 
For other versions, see Suchier, La Manckine, p. xxv ff. ) 
I see no grounds for determining whether the allusion 
is a survival from an older form of the story, suppressed 
by Marie, or her source, or wlicther it has been intro- 
duced as a plausi ble reason for tlie king's decree. Perhaps 
the balance of probability lies with the latter, partly 
because there seems no adequate motive for suppressing 
so popular a story, and partly becnuse its very familiarity 
in the minds of Marie's audience would seem to justify 
tlie allusion. Moreover, the Apollonius story, though 
undoubtedly of different origin, has the further resem- 
blance that the king sets a riddle to all the wooers of his 


daughter, which they must guess in order to win her, and 
he fully believes that the solution is impossible. From 
this it is easy to see how the motive for the task of the 
one story could be transferred to the other. 

The notion of a task set for the lover by the father of 
his beloved is not uncommon. It is found in several 
Greek tales (sec Rohde, Dcr Griechischc Roman , p. 420). 
A closer resemblance to the form of the task as given in 
the lay is found in a Persian story (Liebricht, Zur 
Volkskunde, p. io8 ff. ), wherein the lover must run an 
incredibly long distance to win the lady, and drops dead 
before he reaches the goal. In an Egyptian story 
(Masp6ro, Contes de l'ancien7ie Egypte, p. 33 fif. , and 
Petrie, Egyptian Tales, second series, p. 13 ff.) the 
princess is in a house seventy cubits from the ground, 
and her hand is to be given to the suitor who succeeds 
in chmbing up to her. 

The only trace of direct influence by the lay, or its 
original, that has been noted, i'? a Calabrian love-song 
of the present day (quoted in a German translation bv 
Warnke), in which the hero is to win his sweetheart 
only on condition that he carry her in his arms, without 
resting, over twelve high mountains. 

Page bo.—Saleme. In Salerno, 34 miles south-east 
of Naples, was the most famous medical school in Europe 
at this time, the so-called Civitas Hippocrafica. It was 
especially well known to the Normans, being the centre 
of their power in Italy until 1191, when the court was 
transferred to Palermo. After this time A-ab influence 
came gradually to dominate, and by the middle of the 
13th century, had usurped completely tlie position held 
by the school of Salerno. Two' facts are interesting in 
connection with the allusion in the lay: (i) that the 
school was especially celebrated for its preparations of 
drugs, and (2) that the women physicians were quite as 
famous as the men. An interesting illustration of this 
last fact is seen in Ruteboeufs poem I e dit de l' Erbcrie 
(M6on, Fabliaux et contes, and B^n-t-^rh, Chrestomathie) 
which purports to be the speech of a travelling-physician, 
one of the followers of the celebrated Trotula {Dame. 
Trote) who flourished in the nth century. References 



to this school are common, Marie alludes to it again in 
her Fables, and in Gottfried von Strassburg's Tristan, 
^' 7333-5. the wounded hero, wishing to conceal the 
fact that he is going to Ireland to be healed, gives out 
that he is going to S d "rno. 


This lay is undoubtedly founded on a folk-tale, many 
versions of which are known throughout Europe. 
According to one form of the story, L Oiseau Bleu told 
by the Countess d'Aulnoy in the 17th century, the 
princess is shut in a tower by her step-mother, and her 
betrothed visits her in the form of a blue bird, being 
compelled to take this form by the enchantment of a 
malevolent fairy. The step-mother upon discovering 
these visits, places v/ithin tlie tree on which he alights, 
which faces the lady's window, swords, knives, razors 
and daggers. He is severely wounded but not killed, 
and later, the princess is set free, finds him in human 
form in his own kingdom, and, convincing him of h<T 
innocence in his injuries, weds him. 

In another and more modera version, told in Italy, 
Austria, Portugal, Austria, Greece and Denmark (for 
references, see Wnrnke), the prince assumes the bird- 
form at will and lays it aside in the presence of the 
lady ; and again, he is not healed until the lady in the 
course of her search for him learns the only way by which 
this may be accomplished. 

The two great differences between both popular ver- 
sions and Yonec are: (i) the treachery in every case 
comes through a woman (in Yonec, to be sure, she is a 
spy and assistant), the heroine being unmarried : (2) all 
the popular versions end happily, the revenge in the 
second part of Yonec not being called for, since the hero 
does not die. 

The earliest known version of the tale is a pre-eleventh 
century Irish account. It is found as a part of The 
Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel (see Mr. Nutt's article 
in Folk-Lore, II, p. 87 ff, and Mr. Whitley Stokes's 
translation in the Revue Celtique for January 1901). The 



heroine, who is condemned to death by her own father, 
wins mercy from the thralls who are to carry out the 
order. They therefore shut her in a house with no door 
but only a window and a skylight. Here she is seen by 
the followers of a king, who, being childless and knowing 
a prophecy that a woman of unknown race should bear 
him a son, believes that this is the woman and resolves 
to seek her in marriage. But before this can happen, 
she is visited by a man, who comes flying as a bird, 
through the skylight, and lays aside his bird-skin. He 
prophecies that she shall have a son by him, and tells 
what he shall be called. She then marries the king, the 
son is born and carefully reared. From this point the 
story is different, for the king dies and the bird-man 
does not reappear, though when the young man is grown 
and is following s^me birds, these suddenly take human 
form and remind him of the taboo laid upon him by his 
father, not to kill birds, because of his relationship with 

The Celtic form of the story is evidently imperfect and 
compressed ; but enough remains to give Marie's lay a 
much longer pedigree than it seemed, at first, to have. 

The idea of the transformation of people into birds, by 
means of enchantment or fairy-like properties in them- 
selves, is common in Celtic literature. It occurs in the 
story of the Children nf Lir (Jacobs, More Celtic Fairy 
Tales), in The Sea Maiden (Jacobs, Celtic Fairy Tales), 
and in the Sick-bed of Cuchullin (Arbois de Jubainville, 
L Epopee Celtique en Irlajide) ; also, in the wide-spread 
Swan-Children and Swan-Maiden tales which certainly 
haveCdtic affinities, even if they are not Celtic in origin. 

The second part of the story, after the wounding of 
the falcon, is an account of a visit to his kingdom. As 
to the nature of this realm, considerable confusion seems 
to have existed in Marie's mind. The entrance is 
through a cave, and suggests at once the Celtic fairyland 
within the hills, as well as the Teutonic supernatural 
dwellers in them, yet the hero dies (perhaps like Undine, 
made mortal through love ?) and is buried in a great 
abbey on the road from Caeriient to Caerleon. Again, 
there is confusion, when we read that the lady followed 



him through the window (20 feet from the ground, and 
lined with sharp iron prongs !), and after a long journey 
on foot through the cave into his own land returned, 
apparently the same day, with a magic ring to make her 
husband forget the whole occurrence (in Cticlmllin' s 
Sick-bed a draught of magic liquor served the same pur- 
pose). Later on, she arrives, with her husband and son, 
after a day's journey on horseback, at the place where he 
is buried — a much greater distance, with no cave and 
apparently nothing supernatural about the situation. 
Further, the knight's body has not been moved, for he is 
said to have been king of " this land." Another curious 
thing is, that the abbey is described as the "fairest 
castie of that age " ; perhaps we are to suppose that it 
was the knight's own castle, wherein the monks were 
established to keep watch over his tomb until the son 
should come. Altogether, the most natural conclusion 
seems to be, that the fairy tale of the first part is blended 
with a human story of murder and vengeance, and the 
sign of the junction is in this very confusion. As was 
noted above, Yonec is the only version that has the 
vengeance story, for which I have not been able to find 
any parallel thus far. 

Mr. Nutt suggests that the story of the Wooing of 
Etain {Voyage of Bran, II) shows certain resemblances 
in general outline to Yonec. This tells of a rivalry between 
a mortal and a fairy (who has the power of transforming 
himself into a bird) for the love of a woman, and of a 
consequent feud which results in the overthrow of the 
race of the mortal. Yo7iec may well be a reminiscence of 
this or a similar stor}^ 

Luzel, L^gendes ChrMennes. dc la Basse-Bretagne, III, 
has the story of a girl who is turned into a blue bird ; 
but, apart from this fact, it shows little resemblance to 

The scene of the lay appears to l>e southern England 
and Wales, Caeriient being probably Winchester, the 
British caer being the Latin casfra which became Chester. 
Tlie Old English form was Wintanceaster. There is still 
visible the site of the British city, on St. Katharine's Hill, 
about a mile from the present town, an extensive cjrth- 


work crowning the hill-top. At the base of the hill are 
two small rivers, or rather two branches of the Itchen, 
while the numerous rivulets and the marshy state of the 
meadows may indicate that once there was a consider- 
able river with " crossing by ferry," which Marie clearly 
implies was not the case in her own time. The river 
Duelas in Brittany has been taken as the site by the 
followers of Zimmer; but against this it may be said 
that Marie's spelling is uncertain (other MSS. read 
Dualas, Ditalas), and that, as far as we know, no city of 
Caeriient is, or has ever been, located upon that river. 

Page 67. — Iceland. Yslande in the French. Yrlande 
was much more familiar to the people of the 12th 
century, and, moreover, gives more point to the com- 
parison which would then mean, from Lincoln (Nicole in 
the Anglo-Norman spelling — cf. Tristan, ed. Michel I, 
p. 138, 1. 2835) to Ireland — i.c,^ from east to west in the 
British Isles. 

Page 69. — Plunged into the river of hell. Perhaps a 
reminiscence of the dipping of Achilles into Lethe, which 
made him invulnerable. 

Page 71. — / could not have come to you. So Lanval's 
fairy mistress comes to him only when he wishes for 

Page 72. — 1 %vill make myself like you. The power 
of taking on the appearance of another person is illus- 
trated also in the story oi Pioyll, Prince of Dyfed{Mabi?io- 
gion, pp. 339, 341-4), where the hero exchanges appear- 
ance and kingdom with a fairy king for a year. 

Page jj.—Cave. Fairyland is often represented as 
across a river, or as an isle in the ocean. The classic 
parallels are Hades and the Hesperides. The mediceval 
confusion between fairyland and the world of departed 
spirits is well seen in the Middle English poem Sir 
Orpheo (from a lost French lay) in which Eurydice is 
represented as Queen of the l-'airies. 
. Page jS.— Parks. French defcis, i.e., enclosed spaces 
not open to the public. According to Godefroy, the 
word is so used in Normandy to-day. 

Page 79.— -^5 soon as I shall die. Although the 
knight's kingdom is described as fairyland, he is here 



treated as a mortal and his powers of transformation 
must be looked upon as due to magic. Probably Marie 
cared very little about his exact nature ; the story was all 
in all to her. 


A proof of the popularity of the story on which this lay 
is based is its appearance in several collections of tales. 
In the Eenard Contrefait, 13th century, the account 
is apparently founded on the lay itself, while in the 
Latin (and French) and English Gesta Romanoriim 
different versions are given. 

In the Latin (and French) Gesta, the hero is married to 
an old woman, the lovers' meetings have nothing to do 
with the nightingale, except that the hero is brought to 
kill the husband by considering his own possible fate at 
at the hands of one who so brutally killed the bird 
in wl.ich his wife took pleasure ; and after the death of 
his wife the hero marries his sweetheart. In the fact 
that the husband gave his wife the bird's heart to eat, 
there is the suggestion of the popular story which is told 
in Ignaures, in tlie Ch<'iiehii7i de Coney and in various 
other forms, of the serving of a knight's heart in this way 
— a suggestion which tends to identify the hero with the 

In the English Gesta, the connection between the two 
is yet clearer : the lover sings as well as the nightingale, 
and the lady who is listening to the former makes the 
latter her excuse for standing at the window. 

In Le Donnei des Aniants (see p. 174 above) the identi- 
fication is complete. Here Tristan is the lover, and, 
having been long separated from Yseult he steals into the 
garden at night and there imitates in his singing the 
nightingale, the popinjay, the oriole and the birds of the 
wood. Yseult hears him, and knowing him by the song, 
steals away from Mark and out into the garden to meet 
her lover. Though other birds are mentioned, it is espe- 
cially the song of the nightingale at the close of summer 
(Romania XXV, 1. 465 ff.) that Tristan imitates. 


M. Gaston Paris bclii-ves that the story in the Doniiei 
is based on a Celtic original, and suggests also the 
probability of some relation between this story and the 
lay. What the connection is, is difficult to determine. 
Certainly the Latm Gesta is the most garbled, yet even it 
had one episode which implied the identification of the 
knight with the bird ; and it is only by this connection 
that the husband's act in killing the bird is adequately 
motived. Moreover, the death of the husband and 
happy ending fcr the lovers in which all versions of the 
Gesta depart from the lay and the Donnei, is just such a 
change as would be expected in popular adaptations of 
old stories, while Marie's version is in harmony with 
the tragic ending of the Tris'an; again, it, like the 
ep'sode in the Donnei, stops abruptly, leaving one with 
a sense of dissatisfaction, which would be quite absent if 
one could regard the little poem as belonging to a 
perfectly familiar story. 

Considering the main idea in each case (i) the lover's 
imitation of the nightingale's song {Le Donnei), and 
(2) the lady's use of the nightingale's song as an excuse 
for meeting her lover (Marie), I find it easier to believe 
that the two lays were originally analogous than iden- 
tical, and I cannot see that the one theme is more likely 
than the other to have been the primitive form out of 
which the other developed. My belief that they were 
only analogous, is strengthened by the fact that Marie 
associated the Tristan story with South Wales and Corn- 
wall, and places the scene of The Nightingale in 

Traces of the story upon which the lay is founded 
occur in references in Alexander Neckham, De Natu7'is 
Rerum, in the English Ozvl and the Nightingale, and in 
a 15th-century French lyric (f[uoted in Warnke). 

The Marquis de la Villemarque, in his Barzaz-Breiz, 
published a Breton ballad called Ann Eostik, wliichwas 
at one time thought to represent Marie's original ; but 
later investigations, to show that it is rather based upon 
the lay itself, have been generally accepted. I subjoin a 
literal translation of the rendering into modern French, 
to show the great difference in treatment between the 



popular version and the court-poetry as represented 
by the lay. 

"The young wife of St. Malo wept yesterday at her 
window : ' Alas ! alas ! I am undone ! My poor nightin- 
gale is slain !' 

" 'Tell me, my young wife, why you arise so often 
from your bed, so often from my side at midnight, bare- 
headed and bare-footed? Why do you rise thus?' 

" ' If I arise thus at midnight from my bed, 'tis to see 
the great ships come and go.' 

" ' 'Tis surely not for a ship that you go so often to the 
wmdow ; 'tis not for any ships, two or three ; "tis not to 
look at them more than at the moon and stars. 
Madame, tell me wherefore you arise night after night ? ' 

" ' I get up to go look at my baby in his cradle.' 

" ' 'Tis not to look at your son asleep. Tell me no 
stories. Why do you arise thus ? ' 

" 'Dear little old man, be not vexed; I will tell you 
the truth. 'Tis a nightingale that I hear singing every 
night on a rose-bush in the garden. 'Tis a nightingale 
that I hear every night, singing so gaily, singing so 
sweetly, singing so sweetly, singing so musically, night 
after night, night after night, until the very sea is still.' 

" When the old man heard this, he thought, and said 
to himself in the depths of his heart : ' Whether this be 
true or false, the nightingale shall be caught ! ' 

" And when the dawn grew bright, he went to find the 

" " ' Good gardener, now listen ; there is something that 
vexes me. There is a nightingale in the garden that 
does nothing but sing all night long, so sweetly that he 
keeps me awake. If you have caught it by this evening, 
1 will give you a crown of gold.' 

" Hearing this, the gardener put a trap in the garden, 
caught the bird, and carried it to his master. 

" And the old man, when he held it, laughed with all 
his heart, and still laughing he strangled it and threw it 
on his wife's knees. 

" ' Hey now, my young wife, here is your pretty 
nightingale. For your sake have I trapped it ; I hope, 
my dear, you are pleased. ' 



"On hearing this news the young lover said very 
sadly : 

'" Lo, now, we are caught, my sweet and I ! Never 
again may we look at each other in the moonlight at the 
window, as we were wont to do!'" (Translated from 
Hertz, Spieltnannslmch. Villemarque's rendering varies 
in a few unimportant details.) 

It is perhaps worth while to call attention to the fact 
that the modern ballad is not based entirely upon the 
lay, Marie represents the two knights as equals in rank 
and age. The Gesta versions represent the husband as 
old, the lover as young and poor. The Breton ballad 
lays much stress upon the difference in age between the 
husband, and his wife and lier young lover. Certainly 
here is one trait peculiar to the popular versions found in 
a poem which in almost every other respect agrees with 
the literary version. It may be that it was arbitrarily 
transferred from the one to the other, or that the two 
became confused during the formation of the ballad ; but 
it may also be that, notwithstanding its modern form, 
there is more that is ancient in the Breton ballad, than 
has generally been accredited to it. 


This lay is so distinctly episodic that it could have 
little interest for an audience unfamiliar with the story of 
Tristan and Yseult. Its dependence upon Celtic sources 
has been questioned chiefly on the ground of its episodic 
character ; and Dr. Brugger claims that it is based upon 
the lyric Lai du chievrefoil (most accessible in IJartsch, 
Chrestoinathie de l^ancienfranrals, 3rded.,p. 257), which 
in the Berne MS. is attributed to Tristan himself. An 
examination of the lyric, however, shows not the slightest 
reason for connecting it with Tristan. The scribe may 
easily have been led astray by the identity of title, 
knowing from Marie tiiat Tristan had composed a lay on 
this subject. And the author states that he calls his 
poem Hoircy suckle because it may be compared to the 
flower in its sweetness. 

As to a Celtic source, it must be observed that Marie 

does not specifically state that she had this story from 
"li Bretun." She says only that she had heard many 
tell it, and had also found it in writing ; further, that it 
was composed by Tristram, whom she associates with 
South Wales. Without concluding that the source was 
tlierefore Welsh, or, from the use of the En^^lish title 
Go/ele/ths.1 it was English, we may note at least two 
facts which should be consid^^red in dealing with the 
question: (i) undoubtedly la)s of non-Celtic source 
were included among "lays of Britain"; (2) so far as 
Marie's sources can be tested, there seems no reason for 
charging her with untruth at any point. She states that 
six of the lays were made by " li Bretun" {Guigemar, 
Eqititan, Lanval, The Two Lovers, The Nightingale, 
and E lid lie), and implies this in the case of a seventh 
{The Werewolf). Of the other five, The Unfortunate, 
though the scene is laid in Nantes, belongs essentially to 
the time of chivalry and has no deep roots in earher lore 
— it may well have been based upon a real incident. The 
Ash Tree has the look of a local legend attached to the 
neighbourhood of Dol, but there is no certain proof ; the 
other three, as far as we may judge from their content 
and relationships, attach themselves chiefly to Wales. 

More especially with reference to The Honeysuckle, it 
may be noted that the sort of meeting there described, is 
similar to the meetings described by Gottfried von 
Strassburg, 11. 14,427-48. Upon the advice of Brangaene, 
Tristan cuts his initial and Yseult's into a piece of wood 
and throws it into the brook, which carries it through 
the garden to Yseult ; and so he meets her in the garden. 
There is some likeness also to the two meetings of the 
lovers in the forest, as told by Eilhart d'Oberg, 11. 6527 
ff. and 7620 ff. 

Note also that Marie's statement, "other times had 
she met him in this way," might well allude to the scenes 
described in Gottfried and Eilljart. Altogether, it seems 
likely that these fragmentary lays may be based on Celtic 
sources ; and the likelihood is perhaps rather increased 
by the fact that they do not exactly fit into the story as 
told by Thomas or B^roul. It is easier to suppose that 
they represent varying accounts (especially as both Marie 


and Thomas emphasise the diversity of narratives on the 
subject), than to suppose that they are, at this early 
period, inventions similar to the short lyrics interspersed 
through the later prose romance. 

The exact subject of Tristram's lay, to which Marie 
alludes, is sometimes misunderstood, ; but her words 
are explicit : it consisted of what the queen said to him 
when they met, and it was for remembrance of her words 
that he made it. It is not impossible that the message 
on the hazel, of which the sentence beginning "Sweet 
lo/e," p. 97, is quoted directly, may be the substance 
of another lay, and, indeed, as this is the only part of 
the poem that justifies ihd use of the title Honeysuckle, 
we must suppose either that this was the case and that 
Marie confused it or purposely blended it with the lay 
of Yseult's words, or that the two episodes vvere combined 
in the original lay. 

Page 95. — Many have told it. There are numerous 
versions of the story in mediaeval French, German, 
Norse, Italian, and English (Scotch). The French 
versions (together with one in Greek) were published by 
M. Michel ; the most important German versions are 
the poems of Gottfried von Strassburg (based upon the 
French poem of Thomas), of Eilhart d'Oberg (based 
upon the French version of B6roul). In modern times 
the story has been treated by Wagner, Tennyson, 
Arnold, and Swinbvirne. 

Page 96. — Hazel. Divining-rods have most com- 
monly been made of hazel, because of its supposed 
power of finding hidden things. Perhaps this may be 
the reason why Tristram chose it — to carry out the 
symbolism of the whole procedure. 

Page 96.— This was the import of the writing. We 
cannot suppose that Tristram wrote out in full the 
message of which the "import" fills seventeen lines. 
Even if it had been possible, Yseult could not have read 
it as she rode along, nor was there any need for her to 
do so, as the branch served merely to indicate Tristram's 
whereabouts. The message was probably conveyed to 
her by the symbolism of the hazel and the honeysuckle. 
The meaning of the passage seems to be that he cut 
193 N 


out a four-sided piece {quarree, Latin qnadrata), i.e., 
made a sort of tablet by stripping off (j>are) the bark, and 
wrote his name within the space so marked. Cf. the 
Old English poem, The Lover s Message, with the com- 
bined initials at the end. In this case, however, the 
tablet was apparently cut out of the tree and sent to the 
lady. The Irish Scd Baili Bimberlaig {Rev. Celt., 
XIII) shows several interesting points of contact with 
this lay. It tells of tablets, made cut of wood that grew 
upon the gi-aves of two lovers, upon which were written, 
in ogham, poems, chiefly of love. These tablets when 
brought together had such attractive force for each other 
that they twined together ' ' as the woodbine (honeysuckle) 
round a branch, nor was it possible to sever them. " 


This lay bears the stamp of considerable antiquity, 
both in the old popular superstitions contained in it, and 
in the original theme, which in admitting the practice of 
bigamy goes back to a primitive state of civilisation. 

The story of a man who becomes involved with two 
women exists in at least four versions, in addition to 
Elidtic : in the German Graf von Gleichen which 
attaches itself to a 13th centiu-y tomb at Erfurt (first 
appears in 1539) ; in the French Gilles de Trasignies 
(romance of the 15th century, probably based on a poem 
of 14th) ; in the modern Gaehc Gold-Tree and Silver- 
Tree, and in the romance of Ilk et Galeron, finished 
about 1 167, and founded on an earlier lay. 

Graf von Gleichen, imprisoned by a Saracen king 
during a crusade, is restoied to liberty by the king's 
daughter on condition that he marry her. He has 
already a wife, but nevertheless flees with the princess to 
Rome, where he obtains a dispensation from the Pope to 
keep iDOth wives, and the two women love each other 

In Gilks de Trasignies the story approaches closer to 

Elidnc, in that the hero wins his second wife by freeing 

her father from a war v>aged by an unsuccessful suitor 

for herself. Further, he marries the second wife in the 



belief that the first is dead, and when the real situation 
becomes clear, the first insists upon taking the veil. 
Thereupon the second wife does likewise, and the 
husband follows the example. The ending is very 
similar to that in Ellduc. 

The modern Gaelic story has an introduction in which 
a mother who is jealous of her daughter's beauty tries to 
kill her. She is, however, rescued and married to a 
prince in another land. But her mother learns of her 
whereabouts by means of a magic trout that she has, 
and following her up, succeeds in poisoning her so that 
she falls in a trance as if dead. She continues so beauti- 
ful that the prince keeps her in a room of his house, 
where she is discovered by a second wife whom the 
prince marries later on ; and is restored to life by the 
removal from her finger of the poisoned stab that caused 
her death. The second wife then offers to depart, but 
the prince insists upon keeping them both. Afterwards 
the wicked mother is duly punished, and the three live 
together happily. 

It appears at once that the trance incident is very 
much like Grimm's story of Little Snow- White. 

In Ille et Galeron the hero leaves his first wife 
because he has lost an eye in a tournament, and fears 
that she will not continue to love him. He marries the 
second out of pity for her great love, in the belief that 
the first is dead ; and when the latter finds him with his 
second wife, she takes the veil. 

Comparing these five versions, we get the following 
results : 

1. The introductory episode of the jealous mother is 
found only in Gold-Tr. (and is very evidently the Little 
Siio'jj- White story) ; but it is connected with the trance, 
and in Elid. we have the trance, though its cause and its 
cure are different. 

2. In Gold-Tr. and Gleich. only, we have the frank 
admission of bigamy, though in the former the first wife 
offers to give up her place ; in Elid. , Ille and Tras. the 
first wife retires into a nunnery in favour of the second. 

Certainly Gold-Tr. must represent the most primitive 
form of the legend, with Gleich. on the one side as a 


not altogeiher successful attempt to bring it within the 
Christian code, and Elid., I lie and Tras. on the other, 
as somewhat closely related to one another, and as a 
far more successful solution of the problem. 

As to the more detailed relationships existing among 
the five stories, the fact that the jealous mother, trance 
and bigamy elements are combined in Gold-Tr., and the 
two latter (however moditieri) distinctly suggested in 
Elid. , while Lillle Snorz'- IVkite seems to connect the two 
former closely, seems to indicate that all three entered 
into the original story. If this be true, in Germany it 
appears broken into two stories. Snow- WMleai\d Gleick., 
while in France, only the bigamy part has been pre- 
served (with the exception of the trance in Elid.). 

llle is based either upon Elid. or upon a lay, very 
similar to Elid., having the same name as itself. In 
favour of the latter view may be urged 1. 928 ff., which 
may be interpreted to agree with the latter theory, and 
also the fact that Elid. has both the storm at sea and the 
trance not found in llle, while ///^ has the loss of the eye 
not in Elid. 

Both Glcich and Tras. seem to represent the arbitrary 
use of a legend to explrin an historic fact — namely, the 
representation on a tomb of a man with two wives. 

Of the various elements in the story as a whole, the 
bigamy certainly indicated a state of affairs quite common 
among the early Celts (see Mr, Nutt's article in Folk-Lore 
III, p. 26 ff. ). A parallel to the situation is found also in 
the story of Amleth as given in Saxo Grammaticus. The 
circumstances are different, but the kindly reception of 
the second wife by the first is in agreement with the 
Eliduc-siory. Moreover, in Cuchullin's Sick-bed, we 
find both the trance and the double marriage, though the 
two wives are far from harmonious — from which we may 
conclude not that this tale is a close parallel, but that the 
elements of which both stories are composed were 
familiar to the Celts. 

The trance and restoration in Gold-Tr. and in Elid. 

show a fundamental difference. Gold-Tr. is very similar 

to Snow- White; in both it is a question of poisoning and 

of cure by the removal of the poisonous object. In Elid, 



the princess falls into a death-like swoon through a painful 
shock and is restored by means of a magic herb brought 
by a weasel to restore its dead mate to lile. It would seem 
as if the original situation had become obscured and 
replaced by an incident very common in Greek literature 
(see Rohde, p. 125) in which it is very often a serpent 
thait revives its mate. In Grimm's story Die drei 
Schlangenbldtter this form of the story occurs. As to the 
kind of flower used, the bare suggestion may be given 
that according to Gayot, Les Peiits Quadruples, II, p. 
194, the weasel preserves itself from snake-bite by means 
of vervain. As this fiower was well known in popular 
flower-lore, and folk-medicine, and its color ranges 
through shades of purphsh red, it is not impossible that it 
may be meant. The fact that the weasel protects itself 
by means of certain herbs against snake-bites is said to 
have been obsen-ed by Aristotle (Gayot, II, 194) ; hence, 
in mediaeval lore^ it may easily have been extended 
to mean against any form of death. Gir. Camb. in his 
Topog. Hibern., distinc, I, cap. xxvii, tells of weasels 
restoring their dead by means of a yellow flower. Cf. 
Hertz, Spielmannsbuch, note on this passage. 

There is a curious incident in Elid. not found in ary 
other version, and probably therefore extraneous, the 
proposition to throw the princess overboard, in order to 
enable the ship to advance. The notion of making a 
sacrifice to the sea, or of appeasing it by the death of a 
guilty person, is exceedingly old and very wide-spread, 
We find it in the story of Jonah, in the romance of 
Tristan le Lionois, in many ballads '~,\\c\i2iZ Bonnie Annie^ 
Brown Robin's Confession, and the Norse, Swedish and 
Danish Herr Peter, in popular tales of France and 
Germany, in the Pali-Jatakas, a Buddhistic tale (see 
Journal Asiatique, s^rie vii, xi, p, 360 ff. ), in Greek 
and Latin stories (seeWarnke, for references). In nearly 
every case, the guilty person, or the one to be sacrificed, 
is determined by lot ; but in Elid. the princess, who is 
perhaps looked upon as the cause of Eliduc's sin, is 
pointed out directly for sacrifice. It is noteworthy that 
the ship does not advance towards the haven until seme 
one is thrown overheard, the some one being the 


untortunate sailor who suggested the need of this severe 
remedy. Moreover, it is curious to observe that he 
voiced the moral sentiments of the story, according to 
which Eliduc is plainly in the wrong, and yet he becomes 
the villain and is so treated, merely because he stands in 
the hero's way. 

Page. ioi. — But at last in her land. These lines 

contain a brief introduction in the form of a summary of 
the story, but with no indication of the outcome. This is 
true also of Yonec, and in T/ie Two Lovers the tragic 
outcome is told. In The Honeysuckle, the theme of the 
whole story, of which the lay is not even an integral part, 
is given. 

Page ioi.—// hight Eliduc at first. The same 
uncertainty as to the naming of the lay is seen in Le 
Chaitival, The Unfortunate, which at first was to be 
called Les Quatre Doels, The Four Woes. In the latter 
case, Marie says, some called it by the one title and some 
by the other ; but with Eliduc, she seemed to approve 
of the title Gnildeluec and Guilliadun^ while admitting 
that the first title was Eliduc. One of the manuscripts 
reads Guildeluiic ha Gualadun, ha being the Cornish, 
Breton and Welsh equivalents of the old French e, and. 
The corresponding Irish forms are acus and agus. 

Page 102. — The feasant says. I have not found this 
curious proverb, among the numerous popular sayings 
attributed to the villein or peasant at this time. The 
sentiment is perhaps appropriate for a villein, but the 
language is curiously feudal. 

Page 103. — /« his domain. The source of Eliduc is 
claimed for Brittany, partly because of the name (an 
Elisuc was abbot of Landevenec in 1057, and Pro- 
fessor Zimmer states that the names are identical, and 
partly because the hero's home is in Brittany. It may be 
observed, however, that Geoffrey of Monmouth and 
Wace have an " Aliduc," whom they place at Tintagel, 
and the former has also a " Mapeledauc," i.e., son of 
Eledauc; and farther, that the localisation on the 
Devonshire side is far moi-e definite than on the Breton, 
where we do not know the name of Eliduc's residence, 
nor yet of his king's. 


Page 106. — Narrow pass. There is a gap here of 
about two lines in the MS. 

Page 121.— Prove her innocence. Perhaps by the 
ordeal of red-hot iron, as Yseult did {cf. Scotch Sir 
Tristrevi, 11, 2278-86). 

Page 124.— 5/. Nicholas. Of ^Nlyra, While on a 
pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he miraculously stilled a storm at 
sea, hence came to be the patron saint of travellers and 
merchants. On the Norman font in Winchester 
Cathedral this event is represented, together with three 
or four other miracles of the saint. 

St. Clement. Perhaps Clement of Alexandria, who in 
Marie's day was still a saint, but has since been removed 
from the calendar. There was also a St. Clement, the 
first Bishop of Metz, whose life was written at least 
twice during the 12th century. 

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